Ten years in: some thoughts for a new mum.

With my big girl turning ten this week, I’ve thought about some of the things it might have been useful to know a decade ago, in the hope it might be useful to a newer mum.

French escapades: 5 brilliant things to do in Picardy.

After a lovely week in France, I have been boring anyone who will listen with a litany of Picardy’s virtues. For anyone else thinking of visiting (and it’s lovely, you really should) I’ve compiled a list of brilliant things to do with kids.

Camping for the clueless: my 5 top tips for beginners.

My husband has been promising our firstborn a camping trip for several years. Last summer, in a bid to lend credibility to his promises we bought a tent, but busy lives, disappointing weather – and perhaps a faint undercurrent of reluctance – meant it has lain dormant. Until this last gloriously sunny Bank holiday weekend……

Lunchbox friction. And dairy-free banana chocolate biscuits.

About to tackle the second week back at school and the Easter holidays seem like a distant memory, entangled as we are, once more, with Biff and Chip and PE kits and morning rush hours and after-school clubs and snack boxes. Packed lunches are a somewhat contentious issue in our house. The junior takes one…

Fat Rascals. (A treat, not an insult.)

Five days into the school holiday – of which four were the long weekend, where double parental supervision was applied – and we have worked through pretty much everything in the programme of activities I suggested, and now we’re lapping ourselves. It seems hopeful that the dismal drizzle and frosty temperatures may improve as the…

Staying sane in the hols.

School here has just broken up. I think parental emotions were mixed. Some seemed merely relieved to be avoiding the tyranny of 8:55 registration and acceptable packed lunches for two weeks, others focused on the 24/7 x 2 nature of the upcoming interaction with their progeny. Holidays without plans can  be hard-going. I am not…

Swimming hell. Spa heaven. And smoothies.

Swimming this morning was pretty much the least enjoyable way imaginable to spend a portion of the weekend. On any day, it is abysmal, with the cramped changing rooms, cold, trickling showers and the inevitability of a key item of clothing ending up in a puddle, but the perishing conditions outside meant that even the swimming…

Thwarted snow day. And spicy red pepper soup.

Oh my, this weather! It is days like this that has me texting my husband with links to properties in Miami. He’s not always delighted to receive this in the middle of a meeting, or whatever it is he does during those hours between 7 and 6, presuming that this is another fad. True, I’ve never been…

Longest. Day. Ever. And dairy-free chocolate banana muffins.

Today has been exceptionally long. The children – now tucked up in bed, like sleeping cherubs – have been extremely trying for much of the day, especially the smaller one who has had at least 15 episodes of hysteria and temper. The cat, meanwhile, to put it delicately, has suffered some gastrointestinal distress and the…

Story time: brilliant books for young children.

It sounds revolting, in retrospect, but when my oldest daughter was in Special Care as a premature bambino, I took picture books in to read to her. I thought – maybe was told? – that it was important she heard my voice even from her incubator, but it was hard to make one-sided conversation with…

Freezer tea on a freezing day: (speedy fish pie recipe)

Today is cold; bitterly, perishingly cold – and I can’t face a trip to the supermarket. I sometimes can’t, having endured scarring incidents in both outlets offered in our little town. In the first I was asked for ID – at 37! How lovely! – but as the lady on the checkout shuffled closer in her…