You find me in a happy mood. I think this is partly because I am now actively seeking out happiness rather than just hoping it will turn up. Does that make sense? So here are some nice  things in my world right  now.

  1. On the  night before my son’s 18th birthday there was tension between his parents as I had planned and my  husband had assumed everything  would be OK. So I had organised the present, card and wrapping. I had talked with my son to find out how he wanted to spend his day. I was miffed that my husband  had not taken the day off work for such a big day. As regular readers will know, I love celebrations and my husband does not really see the point. Anyway we worked out that if we went out at teatime instead of lunchtime we could eat and then go to the bar together. Then at the weekend we could have a fancy lunch together. I have also told my son that like myself with my milestone birthday, treats will take place throughout the whole  year.
  2. My son was happy on his 18th birthday. It was full of very simple pleasures such as pancakes for breakfast, time connecting with his friends, walking the dogs and then going out for the evening. We  had amazing food in a café that has changed hands and then just a couple of drinks at the bar as he likes to go but not for hours on end. The Saturday lunch was wonderful and eventful in many ways one of which that his meal was late to be served so he got it for free.
  3. My husband and I who are both very flawed individuals (like the rest of the world!) somehow came together to acknowledge that we have managed between us to bring up an amazing young man who is kind, sensitive, caring, intelligent, modest and well-mannered.
  4. I start my day and end it well with my new Reflex Pillow which gives such a cuddle to the head. My lovely Collie/German Shepherd cross dog kisses me every morning and likes a cuddle. My grumpy old Beagle is an asset at this time of year as he is like my very own hot water bottle.
  5. I am taking time out to read and it is a joy to do so. It was very much one of the things that I lost along the way after becoming a parent. Also we have invested in a DVD player so we can have regular family film nights and have just picked up a job lot of bargain DVDS too.
  6. In all the madness of the weekend, I fell for a sales pitch and bought an half-price fancy coffee machine. It is so clever and compact and has all sorts of flavours of coffee with it too. I rarely invest in expensive kit for myself but this is all part of that milestone year I am determined to have. I have also got some new snuggly pyjamas. It’s all about the self-care baby!
  7. My daughter has her new glasses. She is listening to me more on the home education front but still more keen to her own thing and perhaps that is no bad thing. She is happy out of school and so self-motivated. Today she is researching Twenties fashion for a new character she is writing and designing. Maths work was done with just one careless mistake. I just asked if she has any reasons to be cheerful and she said she has no reasons but she is cheerful. That will do me!
  8. My youngest son and I made a brilliant apple crumble as part of my other son’s birthday treats. We love cooking together and because we followed the recipe to the letter, the results were wonderful.
  9. I am having daily forest walks with my new man, 2 dogs and a cat. I feel so happy when I do this and there is much to learn from that.
  10. My brother’s widower sent a card for my son’s birthday and has offered him a holiday in Cornwall. It seems clear now that my son will head back to the UK in 2019 and he has application forms for volunteering opportunities as a first step to creating a new future for himself. I want him to make the most of family whilst he is over there deciding for himself what he thinks of them all. It turns out my brother’s widower’s nephew and neice work in some of the industries that my son wishes to pursue so that might be fortuitous.
  11. Life is not perfect just as I am not. I am learning rather late in the day that is OK.

What are you happy about this week?

Highlights OF My Week

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Shank You Very Much

Mortgages enable people to buy homes and change their lives. I remember as a child being intrigued by the word and wondering what it meant. There’s an argument for financial education in schools and at home straightaway. So I am doing my small bit and outlining what to think about before you take one out. The  more clued up you are in advance the less likely it is that you will have a mis-sold mortgage situation.

Definition of a mortgage

A mortgage is simply a loan taken out to buy a property or land. The loan is secured against the value of your home until it is paid off. As a former debt counsellor, it used to surprise me how many people thought the security was theirs when actually it is the lender’s protection. It means that if you do not make the payments, your home can be repossessed.

Affordable mortgages

I am so pleased that people buying homes are now asked to look at how much they can afford. When I was counselling people in financial crisis, it was obvious that so many had over-stretched leading to the inevitable collapse further down the line. The Money Advice Service has an affordability tool so you can work out what is realistic for your individual circumstances.

If you are a first time buyer, really reflect on the other costs involved in owning a home from council tax, fuel and water bills, insurance and maintenance.

What lenders need from you

Lenders need to trust that you want to make the payments and can do so. That is what you would want if you were lending money at a friend or family member too. It makes absolute sense. So get together details of your income and expenditure and outline any debts you have too.

Where can you get a mortgage?

Banks and building societies offer a range of mortgages. The alternative is to seek the advice of a mortgage broker or independent financial adviser. They should tell you about their charges and whether they look at the whole market or just at a specific range of lenders.

It is possible to take out an interest-only mortgage but this does come with risks attached and may be the very thing that leads to you having to make a mis-sold mortgage claim in the future.


Very few of us are financial experts and the purchase of any home is a big one. Take good advice and do your own research too before committing to a loan that usually takes decades to clear.












Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Happy 18th birthday darling

You find me in a little shock that I have managed to do well enough to even get you to 18 years old. It has been a bumpy old ride but one I am so glad we took together.

Firstly, it is important to say how very much wanted you were. Having never wanted children, I suddenly became fiercely broody and really struggled when your older sister and your Dad’s nephew and his wife brought their babies to see us. In my usual way, I determined to have a baby and although it took only about 6 weeks for us to conceive, I got furious when it did not work first time as it were. I know way too much information!

You Dad was kind enough to let us go forward and have a family even though he already had 4 daughters. So I was very pleased when you were a boy as it made you that bit different.

Your grandparents had waited so many years for a grandchild. I think they had just about given up. We were not actually in touch when I became pregnant. I can’t even remember the details now but I do know that as soon as I told them about you, everything was forgotten and we entered an immensely happy period.

They used to come and look after you travelling miles and miles to do so every week and staying over. It was not long before they left their home town so they could be absolutely on hand for you and you know how well they did that.  Because yes your mad mother has applied for a new managerial job when she was about 8 months pregnant. I have worked out far too late in the day that a lot of my emotional struggles comes from expecting way too much of myself.

So it makes sense, that I now need to say how very sorry I am for all the bad times I have given you. I would have liked to have given you more material things over  the years but then again,  perhaps you value things more because you know sometimes we had to work so hard for them. I think I was a great mum briefly but of course it was easy with you because your amazing grandparents would hand you over every evening fed, bathed and entertained.

You also had a babysitter for back up called Zoe who was younger than you are now. She took her role so seriously taking you to feed ducks and keeping you warm and happy. I remember my first real sadness around you was when you had done a painting on her watch instead of mine. It was me who saw you walk for the first time thankfully.

You were to a Montessori nursery which cost a fortune but gave you such a magical start to life as it was based in a huge old house with amazing walled gardens. I remember your lovely red and yellow uniform. It was good to give my parents a bit of a break too as you got harder to handle as you started to run off. You walked at 11 months and just always wanted to hurtle off to explore things. My parents were well into their Seventies – they were miracle workers but I think you know that.

We know what happened next. I had your sister and hurtled into post-natal depression and it still had not cleared by the time I had your little brother. In fact, it took a decade or so to shift completely if you ask me. So I was often down, irritable and angry and this was not your fault and not at all what you deserved. I wish someone had seen what was happening and got me some support but that did not happen.

Even in this bleak period, there are so many happy memories of you. In many ways you got me through it all. You still do although the clouds have lifted now and I have happiness every day. That does not mean I am 100 per cent happy but I am learning to realise that few people achieve that and it is vital to gaze in the direction of the things that are going well.

As for the practical side of parenting,  I have never really done it well. I find it all a bit overwhelming in terms of bath-time, bed-time, laundry and housework. You are 18 so your brother would say I must have done well enough to create a man.

As a barely good enough mum or maybe I am but that perfectionist drive is still within me, I am very proud that I have instilled the best of values into you. You treat all genders, ages and sexualities with kindness. You stand up for others even when you place yourself under threat by doing so. I am delighted you are well on the Left when it comes to politics and also know I told you all to make up your own minds on these matters. Your love of history is great as your grandma encouraged this in me and then in you. And perhaps not  surprisingly with an opera singer for an uncle and another uncle who had charisma and acting talent to die for, you have picked up an interest in acting and the theatre.

You look so like me. People comment on that often as you have the brown eyes but also the mad wavy hair. You are definitely tall, dark and handsome but you have no idea of course. You are popular with your peers and with anyone who meets you. Nobody has ever said a bad word about you to be honest. People are always super-impressed. All I want for you now is for you to become super-impressed with yourself. That will come with time and experience. Just do one thing for your Mum – do everything you can to make it happen way earlier than I did.

Soon you will be leaving home and I think for now that is probably good for both of us. You will always be welcome wherever I am but I acknowledge that you need to make your own way in the world. Letting go is part of being that barely good enough or perhaps absolutely fine and just human mum.

I got lucky and I love you.

I am looking forward and excited about your next chapter.


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Cuddle Fairy

Start with the foundations

Winter Lawn Care


The main feature of most of our gardens is the big patch of grass that we call the lawn. With it being the foundation of every garden, it makes perfect sense to prioritise winter lawn care and keep it looking lush even in the colder months. There are a number of ways that you can give your cold-looking lawn some TLC in winter.

Make sure to keep it clear of leaves and debris so it has room to breathe. You could take this further by using a rake or sharp-ish object to poke small holes in the lawns surface for aeration. This helps to allow air to reach the root system and makes for better overall lawn health. Instead of throwing the fallen leaves straight in your green bin, you could use them to make your own compost heap with a mixture of kitchen waste or shred them and place around the stems of your more delicate plants.

Another point to note is that the more you keep off the lawn, the better. As tempting as it may be to get stuck in with winter lawn care if your lawn is looking defeated, it’s a good idea to keep off as much as possible. This will minimise damage and allow it time to rest – even grass deserves a break once in a while!

Another option to keep your lawn happy is to book in some seasonal winter lawn treatments. Greensleeves offer a wide range of professional but affordable lawn care service all year round, so you can even keep your lawn thriving in freezing temperatures without having to lift a finger.

 Animal shelters

Winter Lawn Care


 Although winter lawn care is important, there are other aspects to consider. You could get crafty and create some animal shelters, whether these be for birds, hedgehogs, or bugs. This will encourage wildlife to enter your garden and most likely stick around, if they’ve got somewhere to keep warm. It’s always nice to look outside and see the garden full of life. Once you’ve made your shelters make sure they have food inside and you could keep track of the animals that you’ve noticed.


It seems like these days people are increasingly early with whipping out their festive decorations around the house. But there’s nothing saying that you can’t compliment your winter lawn care with some outdoor decor. You could create your own autumnal or Christmas wreaths or go and buy a pristine one from the local garden centre. Fairy lights are another guaranteed easy way to turn your garden into a magical winter wonderland, even if they only cost you a few pounds!

Winter Lawn Care

 Keep planting

It’s a common misconception that plants and vegetables cannot survive the winter. Hence many gardens get left to their own devices around this time of year. However, as well as keeping on top of your winter lawn care, there are plenty of trees, shrubs and vegetables that you can grow in your garden even in freezing temperatures. To keep your garden looking festive and winter wonderland-esque you could plant red berries along with white Clematis Jingle Bells. Using seasonal coloured plants is a great way to get your garden feeling christmassy without having to go out and buy decorations, because let’s face it, they cost a small fortune these days.

 If you want guaranteed results but think your winter lawn care would be better off done by the professionals, you can visit Greensleeves at or give them a call on 0808 100 1413.

Winter Lawn Care

Cuddle Fairy

Who do I think I am? This is so relevant to me partly because I am adopted. Identity is a big issue for me as there are gaps in what I know about my birth parents and my birth father in particular. Obviously having seen DNA tests on the daytime telly box, I have wanted to have one done so I can at least have some non-negotiable facts about just who I am.

DNA Testing

I was delighted to be contacted by a company called Living DNA, a DNA testing company that provides a detailed and accurate view of your ancestry. It presents you with your ancestry journey in the following ways:

  • Your family ancestry stretching back 10 generations with an in-depth breakdown of the countries and regions (80 regions worldwide including 21 in the UK)
  • Your maternal ancestry (also known as the motherline) and paternal ancestry for males (also known as the fatherline) going back around 200,000 years
  • Your ancestors’ migration paths going right back to when the first humans migrated out of Africa

The procedure

I received a kit which was really easy to use with very clear instructions.  I had to create an online log in and activate it. I took a DNA sample which I found so exciting. I was keen to get it right but once again, the guidance was clear telling you what to do and not do. A quick mouth  swab and off it went in a pre-paid envelope leaving me waiting enthusiastically for the results.

Who did I think I was?

I have held my Irish ancestry dear for many years. I was sure I would be mainly Irish and hoped for something interesting like French and Russian in the mix. France because I am a total Francophile and also because it does appear my birth family were in France many generations ago. Russia because I have always wanted to visit since I was a little girl.

Who do I think I am?

Well I was in for quite a surprise. It turns out I am only a quarter Irish so we will guess that my creativity and feisty spirit is located in that part of my make-up. It turns out that I have Scottish, Welsh and English in my mix too. Is that why I ended up with a Scottish bloke as my first boyfriend and why Wales is one of my favourite places to visit?  Weirdly, a lot of the English places mentioned were places I had either studied, worked or volunteered in. As for the big surprise, it turns out I have a good degree of Scandinavian. Strangely, I remember trying to persuade a group of my friends to visit Denmark when we were 16 years of age. I am a Viking! Who knew?

Final thoughts

I did not get the desired result or that is what I thought at first. Then I worked out that actually I did because I now have proof of where I come from after so many years struggling with identity issues.

As for Living DNA, it was a very efficient system with clear guidance. You get a really interesting report which really makes you think about how we are all connected and should live more peacefully together.

For £99, this would make a brilliant present for Christmas or birthdays.







Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Reflections from me

Family Fever