Becoming a grandma is an important milestone. I interviewed Nickie who became a grandmother aged 36. Nickie was one of the first bloggers to be kind to me when I started my blogging journey telling me that content matters so very much. It seems fitting to see her featured on my blog at last with her views on life and parenthood.

granny

What is the striking story you have to share?

​I was a teenage mum giving birth to my daughter at the age of 18 and then she became a teenage mum at the age of 17 which, if we count on our fingers, meant that I was becoming a grandma at the age of 36.​

What were the joys that this experience brought your way?

​My daughter had cancer as a baby so we were never sure if she could have children after receiving intensive chemotherapy for 6 months. In one respect, her having a baby and me becoming a grandma was nothing short of a miracle.​

What challenges did this situation bring your way?

​Stereotypical opinions! I wished that my daughter would have had the opportunity to forge a career rather than become a young mum. Dealing with the emotions across the family (and extended family) that come with the stigma of teenage pregnancy including wanting to tell our story so that it could be shown that you *can* get through this even though it’s an emotional journey but STILL being met with preconceived opinions.

How do you ensure you get time to yourself and what do you do with that time?

​I have had a myriad of hobbies which include blogging and vlogging, crafts and studying for a degree with the Open University but my new love is running. It’s totally changed who I am as a person and how I give back to the community who helped me find this new passion.

Have you ever rediscovered or reinvented yourself? How?

​My life is a continuous path of self-discovery. Each step is part of that journey. I woudn’t be who I am now without my past and I won’t be the person I’m going to be without what is happening now. ​

Describe at least one physical feature you have that you consider to be beautiful

​My eyes. I love their shape and the colour. ​

What makes you stand out?

​I’m not afraid to share my opinion, I’m a very loyal friend. I’m a very determined person who isn’t afraid to fail because it creates a learning experience. ​

Is it important to you to support other mums?

​Absolutely. I’ve been through so much in my life as a mum that there’s always some advice I can give. I can also learn from others too if they are prepared to share. ​

Which mum inspires you?

​My own. She died at the age of 55 after suffering for 45 years with Bronchiecstasis (wrongly diagnosed as TB when she was a child). She managed to keep a house, a family, a small part-time job, deal with the divorce of her and my dad (the only man she’d ever been with) and still had time for everyone else. I didn’t appreciate her enough and regret that every single day. ​

What would you like the next Government to do to improve the lives of mums?

​I don’t necessarily think the Government needs to specifically target mums but look at family life as a whole – maternity/paternity leave, childcare costs, working hours (making it easier for the employer as well as the mother/father) and also​ to fully support non-traditional family units as an equality.

Cuddle Fairy

I like to reflect on my reasons to be cheerful every week. Today I am a happy mum.

You find me sitting in the lounge with sun streaming through the window and blossom appearing on the tree outside. Like my late Mum, I love Spring with its sense of hope and new life.

Last Friday, we made the long trip to Yorkshire to stay with family in a gorgeous coach house surrounded by stunning scenery. The house used to be my parents’ home so I feel close to them there.

Ryedale scene

My brother looked after us well. It is such a treat as a Mum to sit back and let someone else take the strain of cooking and tidying for a change. I know Him Indoors does more than most on those scores but I think in most households it is still the mum who does the majority.

We took the children to our old town so that our teenage son could meet up with an old friend for a few hours. The rest of us had a lovely pub lunch.

The following day we went first to the North Yorkshire Railway at Grosmont and then moved on to Whitby. The day seemed one of our sunniest ever on all fronts.

My youngest son asked for a trip to Bridlington on our final full day. We had such fun particularly with the fairground rides.

There was time to chat with my brother and long lie-ins in peaceful surroundings.

We have returned refreshed and ready to take on whatever life has in store for us next.

Something tells me it is going to be a very exciting year ahead.

Are you a happy mum today?

Here is an easy strawberry cake recipe with a real wow factor.

Strawberry cake recipe

Cuts into 10 slices

Prep: 45 minutes

Cook: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients

225g (8oz) soft margarine
225g (8oz) caster sugar
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Grated rind of 2 lemons
4 medium eggs
6 tablespoons limoncello liqueur

Filling

400g (14oz) strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
150ml (¼ pint) double cream
500g (1lb 2oz) carton luxury vanilla custard

Topping

2 tablespoons apricot glaze or apricot jam minus the pieces of fruit
250g (9oz) readymade marzipan
Little icing sugar
Few small strawberries
Few chocolate hearts

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan) Gas 3. Grease a 20cm (8 inch) heart shaped springform tin with a little oil then line the base with a piece of non-stick baking paper.

2. Add the margarine, sugar and flour to a large bowl, electric mixer or food processor. Add the baking powder, lemon rind and eggs and beat together until smooth.

3. Spoon into the lined tin, level the surface and bake for about 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre of the cake.

4. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then loosen the edge, remove the tin and lining paper and cool on a wire rack.

5. When the cake is cold, cut into two thinner rounds, trimming the top level if it is a little domed, then spoon the limoncello over the cut sides. Wash the cake tin and line the base and sides with two strips of clingfilm. Put one of the cake halves in the tin and pull up the clingfilm if needed so that it slightly overhangs the top of the tin.

6. Sort through the strawberries, reserve the medium sized ones for the side of the cake and the larger ones for slicing. Cut the medium sized ones in half and arrange in a ring around the outside of the cake in the tin so that the cut edge is pressed against the clingfilm. Slice the rest and arrange as an even layer to cover the base cake.

7. Add the water to a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine powder and leave to soak for 5 minutes then stand the bowl in a saucepan of just simmering water and heat until the gelatine has dissolved and become a clear liquid.

8. Whisk the cream until it forms soft swirls in a bowl then fold in the custard. Gradually fold in the dissolved gelatine in a thin steady stream then pour the custard mix over the strawberries in the tin and chill for 10 minutes until just setting.

9. Add the second cake half to the tin and press lightly into the custard. Gently spread the apricot glaze or jam over the top of the cake. Knead and roll out the marzipan on a piece of non-stick baking paper then cut into a heart, using the cake tin as a guide. Lift over the top of the cake and press into place with fingertips dusted with icing sugar. Chill for at least 4 hours.

10. When ready to serve, unclip the sides of the tin, peel away the clingfilm, then carefully lift the cake off and transfer to a plate. Decorate the top with the small strawberries and piped chocolate hearts, if liked.

Cook’s tip

Not a fan of marzipan then simply leave it out and spread the top of the cake with melted chocolate or simply dust with sifted icing sugar instead.

To make chocolate hearts, melt 50g (2oz) dark chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of very gently simmering water. Spoon into a piping bag made of non-stick baking paper, snip off the tip then pipe heart shapes over a sheet of non-stick baking paper set on a baking tray. Chill until set then peel off the paper and add to the top of the cake when ready to serve.

Monkey and Mouse

Tammymum