My Fashion choices over the years vary a lot. I was blessed with a mum who was brilliant at putting clothes and textures together. She had real style as my husband commented when he first met her. She could rock sparkles and I always loved her in a smart blazer and country-style skirt.

I don’t think I have a natural flair for fashion or perhaps it just got lost somewhere along the way. I have a milestone birthday next year and think I might take that as an incentive to experiment with clothing once again. As with many areas of my life, it has been far too long!

My late brother always told me that I would channel the Bay City Rollers with lots of tartan as a young girl. I think all of us who grew up in the Eighties were influenced by people like Adam Ant and the New Romantics. Musicians certainly still influence fashion choices as I guess singers are always icons of a certain era.

When I was a young teen, my Mum despaired as she wanted me to rock any sort of style and I was just happy with jeans and a jumper. I remember investing in a short white cheese-cloth dress for the Leaver’s Do at school. It’s a shame we don’t keep the outfits from milestone occasions.

When I attended university, there were lots of dos where you had to dress up and fortunately as my brother worked at Monsoon, I always had good stuff including lovely party dresses and a couple of amazing ball gowns. As yes, dear reader, I did live a little once upon a time! My favourite outfit was my crimson ra-ra suit matched with a black lace body from Marks and Spencer. I always felt amazing in that which was great as I have always lacked confidence so it became a bit of a go to outfit. I wore black a lot then although a good male friend said he much preferred me more floral things especially a Laura Ashley dress.

When working outside the home, I loved a long wrap around skirt and smart tops and preferably with a jacket. I love jackets – they just add a certain something much like scarves do.

I have had fun with accessories particularly statement necklaces and wide chunky belts.

So what happened? Well, I don’t suppose I am in alone in that I put on weight and felt pretty exhausted through many of the earlier years of parenting. Combine that with trying to make ends meet and depression and you swiftly see me making friends with dark leggings and baggy T-shirts. Yes, they are practical but I do think we lose something when we take on that particular uniform.

So 2018 is going to be the year I get back into enjoying clothes as an expression of self and not just as a way to keep warm and decent. I might even share some of my valiant attempts online.

What fashion choices or mistakes have your made over the years?

The Pramshed

The dangers of social smoking may well be on your mind as we are in Christmas party season. I am a non-smoker and my husband smokes heavily. We have struggled to navigate that difference over the years with me hating the health and financial implications of smoking. Even though my husband is not a social smoker, he will have a cigar or two at Christmas. Why do we act so differently during the festive season I wonder?

Most people will be heading out on the town as the Christmas period approaches, whether it is for a work’s party or to enjoy a much-needed catch up with friends or family. However, how many of you will be considering having a cigarette once you’re out socialising — even if you don’t smoke regularly? I know a couple of people who only smoke at parties. I have never understood this. Similarly my own parents smoked for decades and managed to give up. Imagine my surprise a few years later when I found out they still smoked when on holidays overseas.

Nicotinell — providers of expert advice on how to stop drinking and smoking — explains why you should steer away from social smoking this festive period and beyond…

Are you a low-level or occasional smoker?

Let’s see if you are indeed classed as a low-level or occasional smoker. There are three main groups to be aware of:

1. The binge smoker — this is someone who will smoke a lot but only at certain times of the week, such as throughout the weekend.

2. The low-level smoker — this is someone who will either smoke a small number of cigarettes on a daily basis, or choose to only smoke occasionally.

3. The social smoker — this is someone who will likely smoke only when in social settings, such as at a pub or when hanging out with friends.

What are the risks of smoking socially?

The main point to make to low-level or occasional smokers is that there is no safe level of smoking and that the health dangers are apparent whether someone has one cigarette occasionally, or once an hour on average.

This statement has been underlined by online resource iCanQuit, which has been developed by the Cancer Institute NSW, when looking into the health effects of irregular smoking.

According to the organisation, people who smoke between one and four cigarettes on a daily basis will almost triple their risk of dying from either heart disease or lung cancer. Both light and intermittent smokers were also found to be at nearly the same risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease as those who smoked every day.

A nationally representative study which was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion and involved over 39,000 people has also suggested links between social smokers and health risks.

The research found that over ten per cent of the group surveyed classed themselves as social smokers and another 17 per cent said they were current smokers. Regardless of the type of smoker though, around 75 per cent of the current and social smokers were found to have had high blood pressure and an estimated 54 per cent had high cholesterol. This is after the research team had adjusted for differences in factors which included demographics and obesity.

Kate Gawlik, the assistant professor of clinical nursing at The Ohio State University and the study’s lead author, stressed that “doctors and nurses need to educate patients that social smoking is still a major health risk and is not a long-term healthy choice”. She also advised: “Not smoking at all is the best way to go. Even smoking in a social situation is detrimental to your cardiovascular health.”

Splitting the effects into genders, iCanQuit has also reported that males who were occasional smokers were 60 per cent more likely to die earlier than non-smoking males. Meanwhile. Females who were low-level smokers were found to typically lose between four and six years of their lives than non-smoking females.

iCanQuit therefore was keen to point out: “Even if you smoke occasionally or just on weekends, you are still a smoker – and the health dangers of low level smoking are serious and significant.”

I think we know this stuff. My parents’ generation did not know the dangers of smoking and it was glamorised in the media. That is not the case today so look after your health and your pocket and quit smoking in the New Year.


My Adults Only Escape is a little fantasy of mine when it all gets too much. I grew up as an only child in a way despite having much older brothers and I can feel overwhelmed with too many people around sometimes. There are days where the housework seems never-ending and the noise gets on my nerves and I seek out solitude but that is difficult with a husband and 3 children.

I would love somewhere not too far away that was just for me possibly a log cabin at the end of the garden.

So today I am sharing my fantasy escape with you based on that lovely song from My Fair Lady because I am far more likely to be a fair lady when I have had a little me time.

So if all I want is a room somewhere, it would have to include an enormous chair and I think I would go with a very traditional leather wingback chair.

How often do you buy yourself a foodie treat only for it to disappear? It happens a lot here so in my secret hideaway I will have lots of chocolates for me to eat. In fact, I will choose Terry’s All Gold in memory of my Mum.

Actually, let’s go wild and add in a scrumptious cheese board and a bottle of Baileys.

Eliza Doolittle liked to keep warm like myself so let’s add in some attractive heating.

To make absolutely sure that I have warm hands, feet and face we will add in a vibrant blanket.

In fact, one of the things I would do in my adults only escape it to get back to knitting and crochet and perhaps even fulfil a lifetime ambition of making a patchwork quilt.

I would like subdued lighting and would definitely have a tiffany lamp on whilst reading or doing my crafting.

If there was any way of having my escape have loads of books on shelving around the walls, that would be perfect.

You would probably find something related to the sea or a lighthouse print on my walls along with some Impressionist art. Retro and quirky items such a typewriter and an old telephone in case I ever feel like communicating with the family back home would take pride of place.

Goodness, the more I sit in peace the more ideas I come up with so let’s have a globe drinks cabinet for good measures!

To be true to the song, I should have someone’s head resting on my knee. Can I cheat a bit and make this a fluffy cat?

One day!

Oh wouldn’t it be loverly?


In the modern world, it can become all too easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget about the people around us. As good citizens, we try to care for those close to us, but how often do you stop to think about your own impact on the people around you?

Of course, from a young age, we are taught about the importance of kindness and compassion, learning to care for our family and friends throughout life. But while we make time for our close family, partners and children, we often forget to make time for the people who are most in need of our generosity.
Whether it is the elderly or vulnerable close to home within our own community or those in need across the world, there are many that are in need of support in order to flourish. Many people say that charity begins at home, but once we are happy and content with our day-to-day life, shouldn’t we focus on doing our bit to share our good fortune with others who need our help and support?

The Rise of Technology

Thanks to the rise of technology and the Western world’s increasing reliance upon mobile phones and the internet, we rarely get peace to reflect. Indeed, face-to-face interaction is being overtaken by phone calls and texts, messages and social media. Of course, it is undeniable that technology is a great achievement and one which can provide many benefits, but when we allow it to dictate our lives, this can easily become problematic.

How often do you spend online or on your phone in a typical day? For some, the figure is likely to be much higher than others, but this is a worrying trend that predicts the rise of technology and the decline of the traditional family gathering or catch up with friends. So, how can you do some good and escape the trappings of the online world?

There are many benefits to taking some quiet time out and allowing yourself the ability to switch off from technology for a while. Whether it is spending time together as a family or just using an evening to reflect, it is these periods of downtime which help us find peace and feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Keeping Positive

Nowadays, there can be so much negativity in the world that we often find ourselves in need of a break from it all. By allowing ourselves the time that we need, we can then work towards being the best that we can be for those around us. After all, when you feel good, it shows. Generosity, care, compassion and empathy are all positive traits which are much easier to work towards when the day itself seems brighter.

In fact, keeping a positive attitude and outlook on life can make even the worst days seem better. Even if you are having a bad day and things just aren’t going your way, there are always reasons to count yourself lucky and feel blessed for what you have got. With your family and friends, you are surrounded by love and people who care.

In Islam, followers are encouraged to share their wealth, good fortune and generosity with others. This practice is known as donating Sadaqah or Zakat.
Volunteering your time for a good cause or simply supporting your community, when we all join together, we truly have the power to make the world a brighter place.

Some may say that compassion and generosity are learned traits, but in truth, they are deeds which come from the heart.

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Your children matter to you so much so it is important to make sure you are aware of the law and car seat safety tips. Take proper care and you won’t need the general accident contact number when things go wrong.

Since 1983 it has been compulsory to wear a seat belt when travelling in the front or rear seat of a car. It is also compulsory for children under the age of 12 or less than 135 cms tall to use an approved child safety seat.

Car Seat Safety Tips

Seats are split into categories based upon either the height of the child (R or weight of the child. it is very important to make sure the seat is correct for your child.

Seats can only be fitted where there is a diagonal belt or in some more modern cars use the ISOFIX system which secures the child seat to the seat frame.

This is not only a matter of complying with the law this is the safety of your beloved child whilst travelling in your car however long the journey.

Always consult the staff in the retailer where you intend to buy your car seat. They should be able to recommend the most suitable seat for your child. They should also be able to demonstrate how to correctly fit the seat into your car. If they can’t do this or seem unsure of what they are doing buy your seat elsewhere!

Lastly do not risk your child’s life by purchasing second hand. You have no knowledge of the history of the car seat and whether it has ever been involved in an accident. Seats should always be replaced following an accident – your insurers will allow for this in their claim.

What are your car seat safety tips?

What guidance would you give to new parents for safety in the home too?