Someone help derail my train of thought!!

speeding train

I was going to say that my train of consciousness is being very British at the moment – it really wants to go somewhere but it can’t because there’s too many of the wrong kind of leaves on the line. However, on reflection this is not actually true. For the past two evenings I have put the boys to bed, had a bath and something to eat, settled down to check emails, Facebook and any interesting blog updates intending to then move on to something more productive, but my train has been derailed and gone shooting off on a tangent, visiting random stations that were never meant to be on the schedule.

Before you know it its 10pm and I’m back at my point of origin with nothing to show for my precious three hours of child- (and to be honest, hubster-)free time (he’s been working lates). Last night, for example, I started off with Eeh Bah Mum’s amusing ode to the joys of Soft Play, was impressed by Cleopatra’s descriptions of her home made Lemon cleaning solution and fiery fig chutney, had a quick peek back at Put up With Rain by Lucy Benedict (not her real name!) and then, wanting to know more about her, got sucked into reading back-dated posts and discovered, little by little, more about her life, love of writing, how her and her partner met and got together, her family relationships, depression, suicide attempts, miscarriage, hatred of Disney Princesses, lust for Ed Balls (!) – at which point I realised that I needed to pull the train over to the sidings and take a little breather – I was beginning to feel like I knew more about her than I did about myself.

I then flicked back to Facebook, saw a link to an article in the Huffington Post giving a negative spin on the Russell Brand Paxman interview/New Statesman editorship and went over to see what that was all about. Interesting point of view but Brand is thoroughly defended through the backlash of comments further down the page including one which provided a link to a website which sets out an alternative future for the world contrary to the current regime/paradigm in which we live. I couldn’t resist and had to check out The Venus Project. That was quite time-consuming too and I’m not entirely convinced that they’ve solved all the Earth’s problems and satisfactorily answered a massive list of Frequently Asked Questions.

The train then finally pulled into Twitter-on-sea for a quick upload, I got sucked into some Katie Price c**p (for shame!) before my eye was caught by a link to an article in the Guardian written by the actress Natasha McElhone discussing gender equality (or lack thereof).

By this time the train was on a collision course with a rapidly approaching brick wall and I was beginning to feel extremely frustrated that the things I was reading about were written by people who were actually doing real things (and then writing about them). All I seem to be able to manage is writing about my random musings. I think I need to get a life and I’m not sure that the “I’ve got a 15-month-old”/Work Four Days a Week/ “Do all the Shopping/Organising/Cleaning/Cooking in this house” excuse is going to cut it for much longer. Am I being too hard on myself?

Two’s company

Smoothie share

Having recently read a post from one of my favourite parenting blogs, Raising Edgar, on the subject of the decision to have (or in their case, not to have) more than one child, it got me thinking about why I wanted two myself. Of course there are just as many reasons for not wanting more than one as there are for not wanting any at all – the less you have the better off you are financially, the more time you are likely to have for your one child, or for yourself if you have none at all, the easier it is on your body and the way you live. Plus, no arguments to break up, no disagreements to mediate, no fights to referee…

As I said in my comments on the aforementioned post, I can’t, off the top of my head, give a really valid reason except to say that with one child it felt like we were a house with three walls and now, with our two boys, it feels like we’re a house with four walls – ie, complete, symmetrical.

Financially, childcare is the key factor that we had to take into consideration and I think timing is key on that one. Being an older mum I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for JJ to turn school age before getting knocked up for the second time, but I did, just about, have time to get him to pre-school age at which point nursery fees dropped by 3 quarters, just in time for EJ’s to kick in! In future it will of course be more expensive to go on holiday, out for a meal, day trip, anything really, but those are all luxuries that you either put aside for, downgrade or give up on until finances permit.

To us though (and I’m guessing to a vast number of other people) the material considerations are massively outweighed by the desire to fulfill our destiny as a family. I am one of two, my mum and dad are both one of two, the hubster is one of two – I guess for us two is the magic number. I can’t imagine being happier now if I’d been an only child. I love my sister and I love my nieces. I love the fact that that my boys have got cousins (albeit girls who are a decade older than them but still just as loved!) (their cousins on the hubster’s side live in another country mind you so they never get to spend time together but that’s another post).

And to the argument that you don’t need a sibling later in life because you make better friends – well, maybe that’s true, I don’t know from personal experience but I do appreciate feeling a part of something which to me, is forever, binding and unconditional. Maybe that’s not true of everyone’s families but it is true of mine.

I am also just starting to see the lovely relationship forming between my sons – even with EJ at the tender age of 15 months. JJ makes him laugh hysterically chasing him up and down, and, even though EJ is known as the Destroyer of All Things, JJ still also refers to him as his best friend.

And despite my longing for a little girl, I’m glad that I had two boys because I think they will have so much more to do with each other’s lives and so much more in common as time goes by.

To those reading this who may want but be unable to have a second child, I really hope this doesn’t come across smug or thoughtless in any way – I do realise how lucky I am and this is merely an unravelling of my own, up to this point, undefined reasoning for making my life (temporarily) more difficult. Two is not by any means better than one, or three, etc, ad infinitum, but it is nice to have been able to have the choice and been blessed with the gift of fulfilling the biological destiny which I had mapped out for myself as far back as I can remember.


What do you want to be when you grow up?

funny police car

A question that I have heard many times from the hubster, first to his daughter (my Steppie) (who’s initial response to this used to be “A Childminder” – I guess her Childminder at the time had a brilliant poker face), and now to JJ, who, at 4, is barely aware of the plethora of possibilities that lurk just outside the door. I think the desired response is “Daddy, I want to be a Woo Woo just like you”. Before you jump to the wrong conclusion and assume that my husband has embarked on a successful career as a vodka cocktail, let me assure you that the term Woo Woo in our house, has, for some reason, become synonomous with policing (although to be fair any vehicle with some stripes and a flashing light – blue, orange, colour not an issue) tends to get the JJ seal of approval – got a rat infestation? Call in the Woo Woos (albeit in a car-derived van emblazoned with the legend “Bug Off!” – you get the idea).

As we often talk to each other using the phonetic alphabet (not randomly mind you, this practice came into being the day the Steppie caught us spelling out a descriptive – I’m not proud of this – in relation to her mother and promptly retorted with “the Bish?”) I’m hoping that I can soon wean JJ off the use of a word I’ve obviously been saying a lot lately and instead get him to throw an element of confusion and misdirection at his pre-school teachers by yelling “Bravo Uniform Golf Golf Echo Romeo!” next time he has a minor issue to contend with. Not only is it an exercise in memory and spelling but also gets him in on the ground floor when it comes to a career with the boys in blue.

On reflection if he does decide to work in emergency services he could do worse than driving one of these:


Choosing your child’s first school

school pic

I expect that if your child is reaching school age and you happen to live in a nice little village somewhere with a lovely little village school then you are probably not too worried about this application process that we are all expected to go through sooner or later. However, if, like me, you live in a relatively large town in the South East of England with at least 7 or 8 different schools to choose between then its a bit more complicated.

JJ just missed the admissions round this year, being an early-September baby, so some of his (slightly) older friends have started school recently and therefore I already have some insight into several of the local offerings. There is no substitute for doing your own research and getting your own feel for the likely candidates though, so I’ve thrown myself into the round of open days currently available. I had three specific candidates with one being the likely favourite in my mind (being as it is, our catchment school), however I now find myself in a bit of a dilemma. Each school has its pros and cons but is there really any substitute for that instinctive feeling you get when you first walk into a building? Its a bit like house-hunting and knowing instantly that you love or hate a place when you walk in through the door – I could live here – I want to live here! I wanted to love our catchment school – I certainly haven’t heard any bad reports – but it seems almost too big somehow. Its true that it has one of the largest intakes of pupils of any school in the area – 90 pupils for Reception year – and so it seems to lack that intimate feel of a smaller school.

Another factor that comes into play is the fact that the town I live in is considered to be ‘an area of deprivation’ (I got this on good authority from one of the staff at the local library who refused all forms of identification I tried to thrust at them when I joined – apparently they need no such proof – its obviously only those snobby middle class townsfolk who should be treated with suspicion when it comes to the safety of desirable library stock). We border two quite well to do Surrey towns where anyone like ourselves, may have been born and raised. However working in the public sector and struggling with the cost of living, lots of like-minded people are also moving into places like this in their droves, changing the town dynamic year on year. There are definitely benefits to living somewhere ‘up and coming’ – investment in the improvement of facilities and services, restaurants and businesses keen to get in ahead of the rush. This phenomena also seems to be true when it comes to schools – the more deprived the area and the more struggles the school has to meet any kind of targets, the greater the investment, funding and the higher the motivation of staff to continue through to the point where they are exceeding expectations and excelling above and beyond their more middle class neighbours. I certainly noticed this about one of my three top choices – a school I really warmed to.

But where do the pupils go from here? And how important is this first stepping stone anyway? Does all this waking up at 4am buzzing with thoughts around this decision have any merit whatsover or are we destined for (at the very least) ‘good’ schooling which may or may not lead to our children excelling either academically through further education or vocationally later in life?

Answers on a postcard…Or – go ahead and comment if you think I should be taking it more or less seriously.

On cyber relationships and online communications

It’s a funny thing but, having only been blogging for 4-5 months, I realise that I now have a load of new friends through this endeavour as well as feeling like I am part of a dynamic and fast-moving enterprise which is quite exciting in itself. Obviously I have also been living partially in cyber-space for as far back as the introduction of Friends Reunited (remember that? Part of the dark, distant past of the social networking world!) and I jumped into FaceBook with both feet (bypassing the likes of MySpace and Bebo) a long time ago too.

Its interesting to see how different people like to use the available social networks (or just not bother using them at all). FaceBook usage has definitely changed over time with people who may have been regular users to begin with getting bored and dropping away to the occasional peep in through the door to see what’s going on. Others have a profile but never visit and then there are those who update a status once in a blue moon but never provide any real insight into their lives.

My mum and dad regard social networking with suspicion – wondering why on earth we want to share personal information with people in this way and worrying about issues of privacy and identity theft.

Personally I find the immediate and accessible nature of communicating in this way to be a massive positive in my life. With other friends from real life who live a long way from me (on the proviso that they fully engage with the medium) it is a way of maintaining a week to week relationship with a real working knowledge of what life is like for them (even if we haven’t managed to see each other for months or even years). We all live busy lives and sometimes we just don’t have the time to engage through other media when the quick status update or Messenger check-in allows us to touch base without getting into a full blown conversation. Of course there are times in our lives when the sound of a friend’s voice is the only thing that will do. My time with new-born babies springs to mind as a point in my life when I have crumbled somewhat and I knew that my best and oldest friend (who also experienced parenthood before me) would be there at the other end of the line to talk me through my (temporary!) panic and depression.
But on the whole, with life ticking over on a relatively even keel, I am happy to engage with my friends through the medium of cyberspace on a daily basis.

Before you suck your teeth in and shake your head wondering what kind of loser I really am, let me just point out that I engage with people in the real world on a daily basis too – I see my family every week and engage with work colleagues and friends who I have made locally through the parenthood experience regularly so its not like I’m sitting in a darkened room on my own with just a flashing cursor for company.

What I do find though is that it is easy to make friends online when you can see exactly what kind of person someone is from the way they write, the thoughts that occur to them and the way they choose to put it across. There is an immediate sense of “this person is on my wavelength”. Meanwhile others may criticise or completely fail to understand where you’re coming from, assuming that the online medium is some form of crutch for those who are socially inept or incapable of forming a ‘real’ friendship.

I think social networking is particularly useful to those of us with small children who’s ‘spare’ time (bah ha ha!) is precious – letting us share our photos and experiences – both good and bad with a wide range of friends (some of whom will know immediately and exactly where you’re coming from and might be able to offer some empathy or helpful advice at times of uncertainty). It is not about lonliness, it is not some sort of ‘cry for help’, it is allowing yourself to be absorbed into and engaged as part of a community. It does not replace face to face relationships, it is all about sharing and allowing others into your life.

Apologies if this post is preaching to the converted. Until recently I assumed that we were pretty much all singing in the choir on this one but apparently not! If you disagree and think I’ve got it all wrong, please comment and tell me why.

Looking forward or wishing away?


I recently realised that there are certain new things that my four year old can now do and enjoy. This is fab news – I can only feel pleased, proud and excited. On the other hand there are certain barriers to many activities – well, one specific barrier actually, called EJ. Having just returned from a ‘child-friendly holiday’ I have come away in a reflective mood, with those feelings (please tell me I’m not alone here!) of time slightly wasted by being unable to participate in life to the full whilst a newly toddling baby is in the picture. You know the thing, we’ve bought a fishing net and a bucket, we’re suited and booted in our wellies, there’s a beautiful beach with lots of quirky rock pools to explore, JJ’s raring to go, but eh-ah (noise of wrong answer from Family Fortunes) EJ is stuffed in a backpack and screaming because he really just wants the opportunity to run off into the sea and get swept to America/scale the nearest rocks and bungee off (minus the rope), etc, little thrill seeker.

I know that once EJ hits the age JJ is now we will be able to do the more interesting stuff together as a family. As well as rockpooling, I’m looking forward to theme parks, miniature railways, picnics and playing with bats and balls in the park in the summertime, conker gathering in autumn, sledging when it snows, holidays abroad with the kids on lilos in outdoor pools, maybe even camping trips, messing about in boats, playing silly card games together at Christmas and going to pantos as a family amongst many, many other things.

I recently expressed this feeling (in a more succint and vague way) in a Facebook post and one of my friends (who has a little boy JJ’s age) asked if I wasn’t wishing my life away or assuming that things would get easier. On reflection I don’t think I am and I wonder if this question itself assumes that to ‘look forward’ is synonymous with ‘wishing away’. I look forward to going to see Russell Brand live in December with my sister but that doesn’t mean I think Winter 2013/14 will be some kind of perfect magical time in my life. I look forward to watching the Great British Bake Off on a Tuesday evening but I don’t assume that it will preclude the possibility of any number of other irritating things happening to me on a Tuesday! And neither do these looking forwards negate any feelings of happiness or contentment I might have in the more mundane here and now. But they are highlights and I feel like its pretty normal to have things, either concrete, in the diary, or just more long-term goals and imaginings in order to keep motoring on through the day to day ordinariness of an average life.

I wonder too about the difference in attitude to this subject from the point of view of only-child parents. Maybe it is hard to imagine the (albeit temporary) spanner in the works that a second baby throws in there. Or, for someone who absolutely adored the baby stage and enjoyed every second of it (strange but true apparently!) and who maybe won’t be having another for any number of reasons, perhaps this ‘looking forward’ speaks to them of looking away from the beautiful baby and not counting blessings and being ungrateful. But that’s not true either. There’s a difference between enjoying nurturing a baby, the cuddles and smiles and physical closeness, and then on the other hand the fact that older children are actually more fun and more interesting! (and yes, more irritating and demanding in a plethora of a different ways!).

I notice, having written this, that there is a bit of a conflict in the original two-point argument that to look forward (through childhood) is both to assume things will get easier, and at the same time to ‘wish away’. The first point implies that things are not easy with a baby (my thoughts) and the second point assumes that things are so great with a baby that you shouldn’t ever look any further than the here and now.

All these mums

I wonder if there are other people out there who, like me, feel that they are not really great at the small child bit of this parenting experience? I know lots of people who have managed to do any number of amazing things with a baby in tow, and any number of toddler-involved creative projects like baking, awesome artworks and educational growing and planting projects. I envy these people because they seem to have more time, inventiveness and get up and go than I do, but I also know that every child is different and my little boy does not have the attention span for those artsy, craftsy, creative things and is more of a mad, active, outdoorsy child. I suspect this is more the case with boys in general… I guess this is why I know that the things we will be able to do later in childhood will suit both him and me more. I just wish that it was more commonly accepted that we are not all the same and neither are our children.

An Autumnal getaway…

R, J & T on Crooklets

Its become a bit of a tradition within our family to take a little break around about the first week of October to celebrate the hubster’s birthday. Before we had the kids it was Portugal and Tenerife but this year abroad was not an option, so I undertook a little websearch to see if anything UK-based grabbed my interest. My main criteria was that wherever it be, it should be geared towards small children so I was thrilled to discover lots of wonderful reviews for Court Farm Holidays in North Cornwall. The cottages themselves are extremely child-friendly, with all the facilities you could hope for, including books and toys on request. Outside there are lots of ride-ons and play equipment and there are regular morning animal feedings down in the nextdoor field where there are two pigs, an alpaca, plus sheep, goats and chickens (although admittedly I couldn’t get JJ interested in going through the gate – the pigs were quite big and they would have scared me at that age too!). The complex also has a heated ‘indoor’ pool with a retractable cover for the summer. I was a bit disappointed in the pool experience though as JJ got a bit out of his depth straight away and lost confidence, whilst EJ experienced his first time in the water and didn’t like being in his inflatable ring at all so I had to try and swim a bit with him clinging onto me like a little cuddly (slightly concerned) limpet.


When we first arrived JJ was feeling a bit poorly and our first outing – to the Tamar Otter Sanctuary – was not as enjoyable as it could have been for this reason. He actually wanted to go back to the car and sleep rather than look around and I consequently missed a fair bit of what it had to offer although hubster took EJ off on the woodland walk and took some good photos of the wallabies and fallow deer that also live there.

It would seem that JJ’s fever then broke and he perked up on Day 2 when we decided on a trip to Padstow. Everyone knows Padstow is Rick Steinville so I was hoping for a sampling of his fare (the cheaper end of the scale – fish and chips!) but we managed to walk straight past the back of his restaurant and ended up in town proper (which, it has to be said, struck me as extremely dog-friendly – more dogs than kids!) and incredibly busy considering it was a Monday in October. We did have fish and chips which was nothing special, JJ persuaded me to buy him a fishing net on a stick and I then managed to visit the Chough Bakery, right on the quayside, which looked very familiar (turns out it featured in one of those Alex Polizzi business make-over programmes on the BBC a while back). I knew I wanted an authentic Cornish Pasty and had been disappointed with what I’d received elsewhere but this was the real deal. I ate it hours later for tea back at the cottage and it was delicious! Apparently they put a blob of Cornish clotted cream in the pastry which is their USP and it works as both the pastry and filling could not be faulted. Then I was gutted that I hadn’t bought more while I’d had the chance! I also had a delicious orange marscarpone ice cream in Padstow – this was the best food of the week by far so Padstow did live up to its foodie reputation in the end.

On Day 3 it was the hubster’s birthday. Unfortunately this was the only day of the week that it rained. JJ wanted to ride on a steam train (rapidly becoming a UK holiday tradition!) so we began the drive to Bodmin but looking at our leaflets we changed our minds and opted for the Lappa Valley Railway (not far from Newquay) which looked more child-friendly being more of an amusement park with three miniature trains to ride on plus other attractions. This turned out to be a bad idea. The other attractions were all outdoors (all bar one building – essentially a shed made to look a bit like a train – open to the elements at both ends with a few soft play cushions and ride ons for babies), two of the three trains were open air. It was raining. We’d paid over £30 so were a bit gutted overall but we made up for a bad start to the day by going back to the cottage (via the Golden Arches! What plebs!) and then into Bude town in the afternoon for a game of bowling.


Day 4 was our best day by far. Everyone was feeling good, the sun was shining and we discovered The Big Sheep! This is a kind of children’s farm cum amusement park with bumpy tractor safari, ride on piggies (pulled by another tractor), Indian Running Duck show (they’re herded through a series of amusing obstacles by a sheepdog), sheep shearing, lamb feeding and sheep racing (with betting!). There is also a great indoor playzone there which both the boys loved – EJ was able to get out of his shackles and run about and JJ discovered two slides there which will make every other slide he ever comes across fade into insignificance in comparison – it was extreme sliding! In fact The Big Sheep was so good we took them up on their half-price offer and went back on our last day too!


The other notable thing we did was go down to Crooklets Beach in Bude. It has to be said that the beaches in Cornwall are dramatic and beautiful and, with the tide out, rock pools emerged in the middle of a huge expanse of golden sand. This was the point at which I began to realise that, despite the use of a baby carrying rucksack which we’d hired from the cottages, the whole beach/rockpooling holiday experience is clearly one which shall have to wait for a later date. It just doesn’t work with a baby in tow although JJ would have loved to do a bit more of it. The only thing we actually caught was a little crab. Which it turns out was already dead!

On our last night we visited a pub which we had tried to dine at on our first night but been turned away from due to it being full. That time we’d ended up at a much less well frequented place which served decidedly mediocre food (a home-cooked or ready meal would have better to be honest!). This time round we remembered to book a table for the first place and had a much better meal. Unfortunately, it was not until we were halfway home on the A303 the following day that we realised we’d left EJ’s buggy in the pub! After initial panic we had a bit of a laugh about it and I suggested we have a T-shirt printed up for EJ saying “I left my wheels in Bude!”.

Overall a very successful family holiday, but I’m looking forward to returning to Cornwall when the boys are a little bit bigger so we can all let loose on the beach!

What parents want (in a blog post)


Well, I’ve been at this now for about four months (blogging, not parenting). Phew. My initial mission statement included a pledge to be true to myself and write about things that remind me of who I am – both inside and outside of parenthood. Consequently I have written recently on the subject of (my take on) religion, ‘spirituality’ and alternative living arrangements, but these have been triggered initially by my experiences as a mother. Now, I know I’m still a newbie, so my readership is relatively low, but I’m starting to wonder about blogging within a niche. Its nice, its great to be a part of this great big ‘exclusive’ club, but its also really difficult finding anything new to say which isn’t really, properly personal (and therefore of not much interest to a big group of strangers who have a massive pool of similar blogs to choose from). Or its just same old same old: tantrums, weeing accidents, food fights, the deconstruction of the English language (eg, JJ’s hilarious rendering of ‘radioater’ – the device you go to for a bit of news and music when its a bit chilly outside).

I’ve been reading a fair few blog posts myself and finding that most of what I’m looking at is parent-related simply because I pick and choose from within this pool I find myself floating in. I’m having trouble extracting myself from my identity as a mother – as I said before, even my non-child related posts tend to end up being child related – I can’t help myself!

What my reading is teaching me though, is what other people (mostly parents) respond to. Top of the Tots100 right now: Edspire – the blog of a mother who lost one of her babies to SIDS. I’m sure this is very well written and heartfelt and a lot of people like a tearjerker, personally I’m more of a comedy than a tragedy kind of person. The Frugal Family always seems to do very well up there too and its an inspired idea to find yourself a niche within a niche – like GeekMummy too for that matter. There’s also a lot of parenting blogs which are written by people who are very crafty (as in “into a nice bit of crochet”, not “keen to devise an evil plan for world domination”), an example of which being Tea is the Answer. This kind of blog can be beautiful, generally very well designed, with lush, wonderfully arty photographs of craft projects and soft-focus poppets. Gorgeous, but just a little bit too humbling for someone who can barely sew on a button.

I have to admit that I tend to fight against reading the most popular blogs, favouring the little guy, the newbie, other people like me who might be struggling for a bit of recognition – a connection which those big, loud, successful bloggers probably don’t have time to attend to (too busy rushing off to the MAD Awards, or thanking the 6000 people who entered their ever-popular linky, no doubt).

At this point I have to hold my hand up and admit to my one reader (hi mum!) that I am a world class sufferer of GIGS (Grass is Greener Syndrome) and therefore, its probably wise for me to avoid looking at other people’s beautifully manicured lawns (bit like an alcoholic avoiding the pub).

But no, that’s not fair because the blogs I really love reading are brilliant in their own right – The Secret Divorcee (bit like reading the next installment in an engrossing novel), Listen, Watch, Read, Share  (another blog I admire for not trying to crowbar itself into a niche – lots of interesting thoughts, ideas and media reviews),  and my latest favourite, Raising Edgar (brilliantly hilarious take on all those old subjects related to the early stages of parenthood that you thought you could never return to again [and anyone (or two in this case) who would riff on a Coen Brothers movie (hopefully intentionally!) is alright in my book]). Interestingly my new blogging friend Cleopatra has just re-named and re-defined her parenting blog Cleopatra Says to hop out of the niche with Trying to Live Naturally – now focussing on her quest to reduce the old carbon footprint whilst living what sounds like an idyllic lifestyle in rural Spain.

Anyway one day maybe I’ll get to read someone else’s post genuinely giving me and mine the thumbs up and that would be a good day.

4 O’Clock in the morning


Yep – that’s the time I finally laid back down after EJ’s little crying fit last night. I rolled over, looked at the clock and it was exactly 4 am. The words ran through my mind “4 O’Clock in the morning and its starting to get light…” – Beverley Craven, Promise Me, circa 1991. This (in context) indicates two things to me: 1) it must have been high summer; and 2) the narrator of the story must have been young – late teens/early 20s in my opinion. At least that’s the only time in my life I would ever have still been up at that time in the morning, voluntarily. I just love sleep too much you see. And there’s the rub.

This got me musing on that beautiful, maddening, sometimes terrifying, sometimes joyous world of sleep and dreams. I googled ‘sleep’ (I know, how very unimaginative) and the first site I found provided a list of ‘fascinating’ facts on the subject.The very first sentence my eyes alighted upon read “One of the best predictors of insomnia later in life is the development of bad habits from having sleep disturbed by young children”. Oh fabulous. I love my children but now I find that not only are they filling every corner of my life with their squiffy little selves in the here and now, but they are also acting as a two-man tag team intent on destroying my future sanity by systematically dismantling the auto-sleep function of my brain. Cheers boys.

On another note, I obviously did manage to sleep part of the night because I remember dreaming that it was Christmas Day, but in the dream I had utterly failed to buy a single present for anyone. I was distraught. I’d let people down. As a rule, I am pretty susceptible to a good old anxiety dream at the best of times – I guess its nature’s way of keeping me in check – dangling the future flash-forward awful-truth reveal in front of me in order to freak me out sufficiently to urge me onwards into an existence of preparedness and organisation (or something vaguely resembling it).

I guess this means that, by my mid-fifties I will be getting no sleep and events will be creeping up on me like Kato from The Pink Panther, ready to wrestle me, unawares, to the ground. Ah well, at least I’ll have someone else to blame!