What do I say to you on your 17th birthday?

Shall I start by telling you how grateful I am that you came to me at 2 minutes past eleven in the morning on this day many years ago now. I remember the fascination of what you looked like after waiting for 9 months to see. Yes, you arrived on your due date which is apparently quite rare.

You were so wanted by myself as my first child and by your Dad as his first son. Your grandparents adored you having waited over 50 years since they were married to finally get a grandchild.

I was clueless and did not even change your nappy that first day which shocked the GP when he turned up to do his checks. I did not know babies peed or pooed on their first day. There was so much I did not know and I was so pleased that your Dad was already a parent and that my Mum and Dad were around to help. They moved within weeks of your birth so they could do the childcare with me returning to work. I remember how I would come to pick you up and you would be all fed and bathed and looking wonderful. You never really wanted to leave obviously sussing where the expert parents lived.

Your first Christmas was so special and of course snow fell on the day to make it absolutely perfect. I remember your big sister holding you by the window to show you. Fond memories.

I am so pleased that you had such a secure start in life and always think you got the best of things because Mum and Dad were around longer for you than your brother and sister.

Your first passions were my Dad’s car “Rover” and I remember how you would touch the badge on it when he took you on days out. As you were learning to speak you said “Baa!” whatever animal we showed you. We took you to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and you took it all in and developed a real passion for all things trains and Thomas of course. You were most offended if anyone describe a train as “choo choo”.

You went to a beautiful Montessori nursery and the teacher told us you would be hard to deal with at school as you were off the scale when it came to intelligence. She had also picked up issues around your reading and writing which would bother you throughout your school life. You read so well but were diagnosed with mild dyslexia but the bigger worry was your writing. I am sure you have dyspraxia but nobody wants to listen.

I remember you sitting at the age of 3 with an archaeologist and how he talked with you for hours on equal terms recognising how bright you were. That was in the pub we used to go to where the landlord let you have the run of the place and pinned up your picture of a daffodil. There were Great Danes there which you cuddled up with in front of a log fire with no fear at all.

You are good looking and intelligent. You are funny and have a deep interest and knowledge of history, philosophy and politics. You are far more the scientist than an arts person.

Like me, you rebel against authority (including myself!)so I think you were more than ready to leave school. I love seeing you emerge as the boy I know now that is all out of the way and you can relax a bit.

You are an impressive young man but for me, what I love most is your sweet heart. You have stood up for people when you see them being bullied even by quite big and rough characters. You have said when accused of being gay that you are not but that you do not see the term as an insult as there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. You have sat up all night long counselling people who are struggling emotionally. I remember the Cambridge Reunion where you were right by my side and walking me round the city until I calmed down when it all got a bit overwhelming for me and then bounced me straight back because you knew I wanted to be there really.

I don’t know where you are headed in the future but right now I am delighted you are with me sharing memories and moments. I am sorry that I struggled with depression in some of your earlier years. I am sad for the times I got cross when I really didn’t need to about silly things like homework or fussy eating. I hope I have been good enough and I can’t wait to see how you shake up the world moving forwards.

I love that we can still cuddle up, how we laugh together, rant against the world’s injustices and are now friends as well as Mum and Son.

Happy Birthday darling – you are going to be just fine.

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Twin Mummy and Daddy
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Deciding on your bridal party can be difficult; you want your bridesmaids to be responsible enough to organise a memorable hen do but fun enough to keep you smiling during the stressful planning stages. A 2016 survey conducted by hitched revealed that brides have on average 3 bridesmaids by their side on the big day. But what are the different types of bridesmaids and what makes them so great?


We have teamed up with The Waterfront Hotel, a wedding venue in Bedfordshire, to bring you this light-hearted guide.


The organiser

With 75 daytime and 101 evening guests attending the average wedding, you need someone to help keep things in check on the big day whilst you mingle with family and friends. That’s where this bridesmaid comes in to help.


She’s one of those people who are naturally organized — she bought you your own wedding planning book but probably used it more than you. This bridesmaid will be the first to make sure everyone is the right place for photos and gathering guests around the dance floor for your first dance. Once the wedding day is over, you’ll wonder how you could’ve done it without her!


The emotional one

She’s been your best friend for years and you love having her by your side but please stop crying, you’re ruining the photos…


As soon as you stepped into your wedding dress her eyes started to fill up and it continued from there. This bridesmaid is the one to consult when you’re trying to write your wedding vows – she’ll know all the right words to say. She’s definitely a valued member of your bridal party — just don’t spend too much on her makeup…


The comedienne

Let this bridesmaid come up with the theme of the hen do, she’s creative and hilarious and will organize a night that’s guaranteed to get your bridesmaids to know one another.


Although some brides tend to want the speeches at the wedding breakfast to be romantic and a bit soppy, the guests want some entertainment! You should let your comedienne bridesmaid make a speech on your big day (or at least let her help write it) – she’s got the funniest memories to share and has a way with words that is guaranteed to make your guests giggle.


The expert

She’s a serial bridesmaid and has seen it all before. This bridesmaid can spot the warning signs of a wedding faux pas before they occur – perhaps someone at the party is getting too tipsy or she knows that two guests don’t get along and shouldn’t be placed together in the table plan…


She doesn’t ask much about the day as she’s well aware of what’s coming next; in fact, you’re likely to be asking her some questions to see how other brides have done it. She knows the local suppliers that you should get in touch with, and the ones to avoid – an ideal friend to have around pre-wedding!


The queen of social media

She’s been stalking the photos of her newly wed Facebook friends to find some of the best suppliers around for flowers and décor. She’s set up a hashtag of your surnames after the engagement party and has been using it when adding photos of your wedding planning progress ever since – a perfect memory bank for you to look back on.


This bridesmaid will set up your very own Snapchat location filter and will encourage all your guests to get involved. You should warn her first if you’re wanting a private affair though because she’ll have your first dance on a live stream and will have Instagrammed your wedding rings before they’re even on your finger…





The Pramshed
You Baby Me Mummy

Different Genes is the first full-length novel from author Claire Baldry. I was interested in reading it as it has adoption as one of its themes.

Different Genes

Different Genes

The novel opens with a funeral scene and we meet Simon who is a stranger watching from a distance. He meets a male mourner and in a random conversation discovers a secret that one of the other mourners does not know.

What will happen when Simon meets and becomes romantically entangled with Louise who the secret concerns? Will he keep the secret or share it? What journeys of the physical and emotional kind will the couple go on together? Are things ever as they appear to be?

Enjoyable read

I enjoyed this book and loved that we had older characters finding love in their sixties after disappointing previous marriages. I also enjoyed grief described so well and the adoption story was fascinating and a reminder of how things have changed in the adoption field over the decades. It was good to see a woman in her own right with her own interests rather than someone thinking she needed a man.


My frustration with this novel was that I think it could have been longer as it was only around 200 pages long so neither a short story or an average sized novel. I wanted to witness more of the characters particularly Simon’s ex-wife and children.

Changing times

I did enjoy how suddenly in the middle of the book we were transported to a different era and a back story that differed so much from what Louise identified with. I also loved how there was a present day mystery going on too with Bob a family friend.

I guess I am saying Different Genes was good but I was left wanting more.




The Pramshed
Read With Me

What are the things that make you tear your hair out as a woman and parent?


Things That Make You Tear Your Hair Out

A little online research tells me that “tearing your hair out” means to be extremely anxious, worried, frustrated, or stressed out about something. These are often the very topics my blog tries to help you with via tips, advice and a bit of friendly back-up in challenging times.

Here are some things that make you tear your hair out in the modern world.

1. Money

If you have money problems it can be difficult to focus on anything else. I am a former debt counsellor so I know that financial issues can be a threat to life itself both in terms of enjoying it and in extreme cases I have seen clients be actually suicidal as the pressure mounts.

2. Social media and blogging

As a long-term blogger, I see the benefits of social media and blogging and how they can be used as forces for good. However, they can also lead to people trying to live up with someone else’s edited highlights of their lives. You do not need to tear your hair out if you are not having perfect holidays, pristine houses and fancy cars. You just have to count your blessings and realise that you don’t know 100 per cent what lies behind an apparently perfect existence.

3. Work-life balance

As you try to sort your money issues out and live up to the Jones’, you may work long hours and find yourself missing out on memory-making and cherishing moments. If your work is stressing you out, question whether you are working too many hours or have found yourself in the wrong job. It really does not have to be this way.

4. Parenting

Parenting can be wonderful of course and is the most important job we will ever tackle. It is not easy though and will never work out entirely to plan. Perhaps you child will not meet milestones when some expert says they should. You may have a fussy eater or a child who takes an age to potty-train or wets the bed. You may not find it easy to help them with homework or to give the right advice when they come up against bullies in the playground. Siblings may fight and noise levels may go through the roof. You love them but a honest mum will admit there are times when it all gets a bit much.

How to get over things that make you tear your hair out

So what can we do when we are under such pressure? I would argue valuing our own wellbeing is essential and some well-timed self-care can make such a difference. It is OK to say you need a break and take one. It is fine to ask for support from those around you or outside agencies. Advice is readily available if we look for it as is support with mental health issues

So you can stop tearing your hair, forget the hair transplant cost unless you have a real issue with your hair and realise that you have the power to change your life for the better – you just have to decide you are so worth it!

What are the things that make you tear your hair out?

Mum Muddling Through
Cuddle Fairy
You Baby Me Mummy

Here’s a Festive Trifle recipe to inspire you this Christmas. Trifle always featured heavily in our family celebrations so I am delighted to share this one with you today.

Festive Trifle Recipe

Preparation timing and quantities

Serves 10-15 in a 30cm x 30cm trifle bowl

Preparation time: 45minutes

Ingredients for festive trifle recipe

• 1 x 415g can Del Monte® Fruit Cocktail in Juice (well drained)
• 1 x 415g can Del Monte® Peach Slices in Juice (well drained)
• Elderflower liqueur
• Handful of fresh cherries (stalks on)
• 100g dark chocolate, chopped
• Edible gold dust / desiccated coconut / hundreds and thousands
• Pink food colouring or 2tsp crushed, freeze dried raspberries (optional)
• Madeira Cake (shop bought 2-3 loaves or homemade)
• Custard (shop bought 1 x 400g can or homemade)
• 50g unsalted butter, softened
• 150g icing sugar, sifted
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 35ml double cream
• Berries & edible flowers for decoration


1. Soak the Madeira cake (see below for recipe) by pricking the surface with a fork and gently drizzling with liqueur.
2. Prepare cherries for decoration by melting the chocolate in a bain-marie (gently melt 2/3 of the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl, set over an inch of simmering water in a saucepan. When almost completely melted, remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate, stirring until completely melted.) Remove from heat and gently dip your cherries in the chocolate to coat completely.
3. Once set, brush the cherries with your edible gold dust until they shine. If using coconut or hundreds & thousands instead of gold dust, dip into your chosen decoration whilst the chocolate is still wet.

4. Add colouring or freeze dried raspberries to shop bought or homemade custard (see below for recipe).
5. Make your buttercream by beating together butter, sugar, vanilla, food colouring/freeze-dried raspberries and cream.
6. Now it’s time to assemble your trifle! Gently place the first layer of soaked Madeira cake into the base of a 30cm x 30cm trifle bowl.
7. Top the cake with a layer of Del Monte® Peach Slices making sure they are placed up to the edge of the sponge.
8. Then add a layer of pink custard and another layer of cake.
9. Top this with a layer of Del Monte® Fruit Cocktail making sure the fruits are placed up to the edge of the sponge.
10. Then add a layer of pink custard and another layer of cake.
11. Repeat this pattern as many times as your bowl allows, ensuring you finish with a final layer of Madeira cake.
12. Using a piping bag, pipe the top layer with the buttercream with extra dabs piped in a circle around the edge of the trifle.
13. Place your decorated cherries where you have piped your dabs.
14. Now decorate with fresh berries and edible flowers, arranged in a suitably celebratory design!


This festive trifle recipe has been created by London bakery owner, Lily Vanilli, to celebrate Del Monte’s 125th Anniversary. For more recipe inspiration, please visit www.delmonteeurope.com.

This Mama