What’s in my bag …

Photo from mehappyme.com via Pinterest

Being quite small and having quite wide feet, clothes and shoe shopping can be frustrating and disappointing.  However, I love a bag and am always on the search for the holy grail of handbags.  Buying a new handbag makes me happy and is my guilty pleasure, ‘guilty’ as I don’t always reveal the true price!  My best handbags are an everyday green leather tote from Boden, I no longer use it daily as the leather is worn and battered after years and years of use but the colour, size and style were perfect and a beautiful vintage silver bag I found in a charity shop which I use for special occasions.


My current favourite is a large, navy bag from Clarks, I would prefer a better material but the size, colour and style suit me well.   I also keep a small, bright bag in it which is perfect for keys, a purse and my mobile for the school run etc..


My bag is my mobile office and I try to have all I need in it.  Today my bag contains


  1. A zip Filofax for keeping myself organised and plans. It also doubles as a card holder for loyalty cards, stamps, membership cards etc..
  2. A small cosmetic bag full of essentials – NYR
  3. A spare shopping bag – Eden Project print
  4. My iPhone
  5. A purse containing cash and my bank card- Cath Kidston
  6. A pencil case containing stationery essentials – Emma Bridgewater
  7. Water bottle, sometimes I swap this for an insulated cup if I’m likely to want a hot takeaway drink.
  8. Sunglasses for driving or if I feel a migraine coming on.
  9. My Kindle, I am often waiting for a child to finish a club and have learnt to fit in 5 minutes reading wherever I can.

I also have a pack of tissues in the bag which is missing from the photo.

My cosmetic bag is key and gets transferred to my gym bag, rucksack for days out etc..  It is my mum kit!


  1. Hair brush.
  2. Bach Rescue Remedy, because some days just become a rescue remedy kind of day.
  3. Hair bands, I have short hair but my daughter always needs one.
  4. Painkillers.
  5. Wet wipes.
  6. Inhaler for my son.
  7. NYR travel rollerstick, I get bad travel sickness and roll this on pulse points for journeys.
  8. Liz Earle face spritz to refresh my skin and a little pick me up.
  9. Pacifica lipstick.
  10. NYR defence hand spray (this is amazing, it lasts for ages and feels and smells so much nicer than the antibacterial gels)
  11. Tampax.

In the summer this bag will also contain a mini bottle of sun tan lotion.

I like feeling organised and in control with a well packed bag, I can deal with problems as they arise and use any unexpected free time well.  I suppose my bag is my super hero’s cape, wearing it I can do anything!


A cup of tea and a new book


As the children become older, I find my role in the holidays changing. From doing and being with them all the time they are now trying new experiences independently. This holidays they’ve been climbing and on a tennis camp on their own. Well nearly on their own as on both occasions I’ve been on site as it’s been too far to simply drop them and go back home, it’s a 20+ mile round trip to our nearest sports centre, that’s rural life! I like that the children are trying new skills and doing things they enjoy but I’m also trying to keep a balance too so there are family trips which we all participate in and then relaxed times at home for Lego building, DVDs, play dates and baking. As Mr S has been home I’ve also had a date with each of my children, we’ve been to my gym where we’ve swam and enjoyed a jacuzzi and sauna.

This holiday has given me some unexpected time for myself, the sports centre has a nice café and with my Kindle and note book for plans I’ve been able to relax and think whilst the children have been busy. As the children get older, holidays are becoming more relaxing and restful and we’re all feeling the benefits.

Spring do your thing …


As another day’s plans for the holidays are changed due to the wet, grey weather I simply have one plea this morning, come on Spring do your thing.  Lets see some blossom, feel the warmth of the sun on our faces, play on the grass, wear sunglasses and a flirty skirt, hear the birds, enjoy lighter days and simply have a skip in our step.  Spring its time to shine…..

Nail Art


For Little Miss one of the delights of school holidays is painted nails. In the days before she breaks up Little Miss will be deciding on the shade and counting down the minutes until she can have her manicure and varnish.

Earlier this month I did a Body Shop order and needing to spend £1 to get free delivery I searched for a product at this price and discovered a nail art pen in the sale for this exact sum. OMG we are loving this tool and it’s becoming one of the best pounds I’ve ever spent!

After our first few experiments with dots and stripes, we progressed to a simple flower this holiday. We have our own nail art inspiration board on Pinterest and have big ideas for the coming holidays, special effects including marbling (bubble wrap, genius idea) a fruity theme for the summer, Halloween art for October etc..

I suppose nail art and make up are becoming the new crafting for tweens, with the skills being transferable experimenting with colour, textures etc.. I am embracing nail art because it gives me much cherished time with my daughter, music in the background, the gentle touch of a hand massage, manicure etc .. and the time to sit still and talk. I’m sure in the coming years it’ll be a routine done with friends over teenage gossip so I’ll enjoy every little manicure until then and yes I’m proud to wear my daughter’s designs on my nails.

Hot cross buns.


Hot cross buns are my favourite Easter treat. For me nothing compares to a simple, freshly baked bun with soft, slightly spiced dough and plump fruits, fresh from the bakers on Good Friday.

I’m not tempted by the supermarkets with their fancy flavours, to me a hot cross bun is the delight of a simple recipe. From childhood to adulthood, I have always queued up on Good Friday morning at the local baker for fresh hot cross buns, packaged in a white paper bag. A hot cross bun is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Walk and Talk


It’s funny how traditions and special moments can evolve. What started as a reaction to a bad day at work has become a weekly tradition and a highlight of my working week, Tuesday lunchtimes are walk and talk.

Over a year ago, my colleague and I were both having a v bad day, it was overwhelming and on a whim we decided to walk to a favourite cafe and get a takeaway coffee. When we arrived the smell and look of the daily soup was too good so we swapped for this and since then every Tuesday lunchtime we go and collect homemade soup and bread from our little cafe. It is the best cafe I know, the food is amazing and it’s always full of locals so invariably we stop and chat to a neighbour or friend too. However we never stop for lunch it’s always takeaway as my colleague and I walk and talk. We have resolved so many of our department’s problems on these weekly walks, planned special events and thought of new ideas. Sometimes we’ve been joined by colleagues who are always welcome and they too walk and talk .

Tuesday’s walk and talk is an inspiring and calming hour in our week, it’s the only day I take a lunch break and definitely helps keep balance in my working week. It’s useful as we have never returned with something unresolved and always feel so much better for fresh air and a healthy hearty soup. Tuesday’s walk and talk is a simple pleasure in a busy working life.

A girlie weekend


This weekend, Little Miss and I had our first ever girlie weekend as our boys went to visit Grandad. Following his illness at Christmas and the realisation that Grandad is more frail than before, we have talked lots and tried to make our visits a little easier and relaxing for him.  We’ve decided that Mr S will either take just take one child to visit or we will all go up and stay in a hotel.  This weekend the boys went up and Little Miss and I had a special time together at home.

Recently I’ve felt that our time together is changing, we are talking about more grown up things, music, fashion etc..  This weekend was full of  sparkles, a little shopping trip, watching and singing musicals, reading together, a pampering spa, dinner in a lovely Thai restaurant, grown up activities which just felt right.  This is becoming such a lovely age, even if Little Miss is always after my phone to pretend its hers, mobiles and ear piercing are becoming big topics for discussion (our agreement is a mobile when she goes to secondary school and she’s allowed her ears to be pierced this summer)

After Little Miss’ ballet class on Saturday, we drove over to our county town to enjoy a browse around the shops before finally going to see The Greatest Showman.  Its been on our must see list for months and we were so pleased to finally see it, we’ve been playing the soundtrack for weeks.  The atmosphere at the cinema was brilliant, it was sold out and there were a lot of mums and daughters of all ages enjoying an early mothers day treat.  After the film, we chose a Thai restaurant for tea. It is a pleasure to dine out with Little Miss, she loves her food and is so adventurous and interested in food.  We found a gorgeous Thai restaurant and Little Miss was a hit with the staff, they were delighted by her interest in the food and willingness to try new dishes.  The food was so good and she was a very amusing dinner date.

On Sunday, I not only got a lie in as our early riser Little Man was away but also a cup of tea in bed for Mothers day, the perfect way to wake up.  We had a beautifully lazy morning, a relaxing bubble bath, taking time to style hair and experiment with different looks and simply pampering ourselves.  We then took a walk down town for some fresh air and came back and took the time to cook lunch together.  In the afternoon, I was so pleased to show Little Miss Grease for the first time, she had seen the local secondary school’s performance during the week so it felt the right time to introduce her to one of my favourite films, needless to say I sang (cue eye rolling!) and we both danced along to the songs and laughed a lot.  I had also treated us to the new Rebel Girls book as we had loved the original, so in front of the fire, cosy under a blanket we read together.  It really was as perfect as it sounds and it was one of those moments when I couldn’t believe how lucky and privileged  I am to be mum to my gorgeous girl.

Whilst we both missed our boys, it was a treat to have some lovely time together and do all those special little mum daughter things together.  I am so proud of my daughter and I loved our exclusive time together.

Snow Day 2018

img_1005 So this should have been a little post tonight about World Book day and the fun we had dressing up in our costumes.  However, the children never got the opportunity to dress up today as we had a snow day!  Snow is really rare where we live and the last significant snow was in our first few months as a family in 2010, so a snow day for the children is a rare treat.

Although for my children a snow day is a treat, for me as a teacher in a special needs school its different.  Whilst our day students were not at school today, we are also a residential school so a snow day is not an option for us, we need to open and staff our school.  Our students aren’t just students they are our young people, we care for them, we want them to feel safe and secure and when things are different, we need to be there for them.  Our staff team have been terrific today and we’re prepared for tomorrow.  Things will be a little different as only those staff local will be able to come in, our rural town is currently cut off by road closures.  However we have enough staff by people volunteering to do longer hours, coming in on their days off or staying with friends locally to allow them to be on shift as needed. The conditions are so bad here today that every member of staff will need to walk to school tomorrow, but we will and we know there’ll be a hot drink waiting for us when we arrive.  It’ll be a fun day, these are the days when everyone pulls together and are the ones we always remember.  And, yes we’ll be making snowmen and snow angels and having snowball fights, every child should have the opportunity to experience a snow day at home or at school.


February half term


Of all the school holidays in the year, I find the February half term an odd one, it’s not a holiday when a lot happens and pre children it was simply spent pottering and relaxing whilst Mr S worked.  Our half term this year was one full of simple pleasures, there was no big day out or special event just local activities.  The weather was pretty awful, so cold and wet and this affected our plans too.

As Mr S wanted to decorate our bedroom, I took the children away to my parents for a couple of days at the beginning of the week to give him some time to do the job without distractions.  I had great plans and was very excited to have been able to organise for my parents to take the children out so I could visit the big shopping mall with a long list of shopping.  Unfortunately I had a horrendous migraine for the days we were at my parents and spent the two days in a darkened room alternating between being sick and sleeping, so not quite my anticipated visit but a lot cheaper!  The children loved the day out I had planned for them in Bristol as they got to visit the local Air Hop and try out all the trampolines and rides.

We were back at home for a pancake tea and it was nice to have Shrove Tuesday fall in the holidays as it was more relaxed and fun.  I did take the traditional toss a pancake photos, I have one every year of the children and they’ve become one of those measures of the children growing up.

Ash Wednesday was also Valentine’s Day this year.  For personal reasons I find it a tough day so whilst Mr S and I do exchange cards and a little gift, we don’t really do anything lovey dovey on this day.  The weather was so awful we spent the morning watching the children skoot around in an indoor skate park and then drove out to a pub for a lazy lunch en famille.

Thankfully Thursday was a gorgeous day, the best of the week with bright blue skies and warm sunshine.  We ended up on the beach and met lots of friends who had the same idea too.  The trip to the beach was one of the highlights of this holiday, watching the children skimming stones with their friends, running up and down the beach and laughing.  I have a lovely photo of a whole gang of children balanced on the groyne, the bright colours of their wellies beautifully contrasting the blue skies.  Simple pleasures can be the the best.

On Friday we had a few jobs to do over in big town and whilst they were not the most fun for the children we stopped off at the country park on the way home to run off some energy and explore the woods and fields.  I do find my children need a good walk or exercise every day to keep them more relaxed and calm.

Whilst most of our week was spent together, I did take both children alone on a mummy date each to a local cafe.  Both really appreciated this time together and I learnt a lot of how they’re feeling about things.  It’s surprising how chatty the children can be with cake and a hot chocolate!

Although half term was quiet and full of little trips, it was relaxing in it’s own way.  Sometimes you just need to stop and enjoy the little things, a trip to the beach, a walk in the park or a homemade cake in a cafe.


@SusanCalman – My Strictly Winner

I am a huge Strictly Come Dancing fan, its what autumn evenings were made for.  It gives autumn evenings a little sparkle with the dances, costumes, make up and hair, music, staging etc.. It is a show which genuinely makes me happy and relaxed, whether it be the big shows at the weekend or Zoe during the week, my family know to let me have a little time to watch Strictly.

I genuinely like all the contestants, there’s no one I’m ‘agin.’ (see @mariankeyes, SCD super fan) However this year there has been one contestant who has shone out and for whom I may have developed a bit of a girl crush, the magical Susan Calman.  Her joy and enthusiasm for Strictly was unrivalled and here was a contestant I could relate to, similar age, non dancer, not very girlie but whom adored Strictly and wanted to learn to dance.  Her choreography and music choices were brilliant, Kevin Clifton is so talented because he understands who is partner is and how to portray that in the dance.   Susan’s costumes and make up embraced all the glitz of Strictly and she looked stunning.  I liked how natural it felt to see Susan’s wife in the audience and how supportive she was, alongside Susan’s gang of friends the ‘Geek squad.’ Here were professors, lawyers, writers cheering on their friend in matching t-shirts at Blackpool and loving every minute, its the sort of thing I could see me and my friends doing.   Susan brought so much to Strictly and this evening, I thought the episode lacked a little something and I’ve come to  realise that it was missing the infectious joy and passion of Susan and Kevin.

On Monday  I led an assembly at the special needs school where I work on our theme of the week, learning something new.  I started with Susan’s pinned tweet when she was announced as a contestant to some of her quotes and interviews as she progressed and finished with her dance to Morecambe and Wise.  During the dance, my students started standing up and came to the front to dance, it was a totally spontaneous moment and it was a moment of pure joy and delight, Susan’s enthusiasm and love for dancing has made life a little more sparkling and joyful for so many.  Thank you Susan and please keep dancing.