Laminate is Great

When I was but a wee babe in arms (actually about five), I can remember our household going into turbo overdrive one Christmas. Was it Santa’s impending visit that was causing my brother to act as if he’d just consumed four espressos in one sitting? Was it the thought of escaping Christmas dinner duties by us all piling round my aunties on the big day causing my mother to skip with glee? Was it the mere prospect of acquiring a fat juicy bone in his stocking causing our dog Sam to howl wistfully into the cold night air? No. No. And no.

It was laminate flooring.  Yep, you heard that right folks. Laminate flooring.

Back in the day (the eighties to be precise, or a bit more vague) it was all the rage to rip up your carpet, smash your tiles or hide your painted shame with the L word. To become a family with laminate flooring in my neighbourhood back then was being cool and trendy. And it was in our kitchen! After a lifetime (literally, for me) of living with some strange red tile-type monstrosity that was our kitchen floor, we were finally getting laminated. I can still remember the first time my foot touched the soft spongy veneer. It was heaven.

(Full Disclosure Note: Despite the new floor being perfect, it wasn’t heaven for everyone for long. My brother calmed somewhat when he learned he could no longer traipse muddy boots through the kitchen. My mother’s skip morphed into a shuffle when my auntie saw the new floor and duly invited the entire family round to ours for Xmas dinner instead. And as for Sam getting his juicy bone – that could never have happened. We didn’t own a dog. Just a cat named Thomas. )

Then came the 90s. And the noughties.  Everyone decided to ditch the kitsch. Laminate flooring went quiet for two decades. Very quiet.




But thank God for the Twenty-Tens! Laminate is back, and it’s back in a big, big way. More importantly, this time it’s here to stay. How sure am I? Well, I’ve just kitted out my bedroom, living room and, yes, my kitchen in the latest design. That’s how sure I am. It was quick, it was easy, and it looks absolutely stunning. I opted for a white oak laminate flooring with gloss finish for the kitchen, but with so much variety to choose from, it really is a buyer’s market.

It’s not all heaven, of course. My son now has to be reminded to take off his muddy boots before leaving the garden. My mother has invited everyone she knows and a few she doesn’t round to mine for Christmas dinner and Sam is still howling away for that juicy bone that will never come because he isn’t real.

So whatever happens with the turkey and the sprouts come the Queen’s speech, and no matter how badly I mess it all up, I can be safe in the knowledge that everyone will be secretly admiring my spectacular new floor.

Except my auntie. Strangely, she was the only person not to get an invite from my mother.

Building a Home

When you move out of the parental home and fly the nest, the first things that come to mind in terms of furnishing your new pad is their practicality and cost – the cheaper the better. I remember being completely over the moon with a cardboard box full of my mum’s rather retro and well loved crockery. Another relative might remember they have an old kettle packed away in the garage you can have, and so and so forth until you have a small, secondhand yet functional little nest of your very own.

Over time, your begged, borrowed and stolen (not really, but y’know) homewares will be replaced, slowly and surely, for your own taste and style with the odd old faithful kitsch item lurking behind because you’ve grown to love the ugly floral print on your mum’s old casserole dishes.

You’ll get older, you’ll earn a bit more money, you’ll spend your weekends in huge Scandinavian home stores deliberating over chrome or brushed steel toilet roll holders and bed sheets with strange yet oddly enjoyable patterned bed sheets and the occasional bit of slightly wayward DIY.  You’ll find a new pride for your home, “Oh yes, I put the wallpaper up myself,”, you’ll glow a little when your friends and family compliment your style and choice of decoration. You’ll have a little moment to yourself and fully take in what you’ve created, what you’ve earnt and achieved. A safe haven, a place to be, a home.

Taking it a step further, you may decide to have children, and like me, watch things slowly unravel, your home never (EVER) being tidy again, housework will get on top of you, you’ll feel yourself slowly drowning in general child-related detritus and brightly coloured plastic.

You’ll realise that you can only pick two of the following:

Staying sane. Happy kids. Clean and tidy house.

You’ll grudgingly lower your standards, while missing the shine your place had previously. You’ll avoid Pinterest. You’ll clean furniture with baby wipes and disguise the stained sofa with artfully placed scatter cushions.

But there will come a time, a time when the little angels stop smearing luminous food on every available surface, a time when their toys aren’t quite so bright and huge and claustrophobia-inducing. A time when you might just be a little brave and dare to look up bedroom ideas for instance. When you can maybe claw back a little of the order and sparkle your home once had. Where you can embrace the fingerprints smudged on every window and mirror, the debacle of a cupboard full of assorted plastic containers in every imaginable shape and size yet fail to match a single container with it’s partnering lid, the odd socks and pants scattered in the strangest of places, and the scribbles on the walls and the fridge covered in school letters and masterpieces.

And you’ll realise after all the stress and heartache of “OMG GET YOUR SHOES OFF THE SOFA” and “PLEASE DO NOT WIPE YOUR BOGIES ON THE WALLS” that that is what makes a home. The imperfections, the history, the signs of character that you can’t buy in any reasonably-priced Swedish megastore.

That you had your perfect home all along.

National Wallpaper Week with Graham & Brown – a Nostalgic Bedroom Makeover

You may have seen that this year I’ve been all about the home improvements. I finally had enough of looking at the sticky, grubby child muck on the walls and doing not much more than giving them an idle scrub with a baby wipe. And while I’ve tackled the majority of the house now, after hours and hours of painting and blisters and aching muscles, one room remained…

Our bedroom. Functional, yes. But pretty? Comfortable? Something to be a little proud of? Not really. It was always at the bottom of the priority list as ya know, we only sleep in there, right? How much difference will it make if it looks nice? (A lot apparently, but I’ll get back to that).

I needed help.

The decorating guardian angels Graham & Brown came to my rescue with National Wallpaper Week ( which is the 5th to 11th of October don’tcha know (yes, it’s a thing) and the opportunity to makeover a room with some of their fancy wallpapers.

Shall we have a little “before” action?

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Even my unicorn collection couldn’t brighten it up.

Enough is enough I proclaimed to the sad walls, brandishing my brush of wallpaper paste menacingly in the air.

Part of this challenge was that Graham & Brown wanted to prove that there was a wallpaper for everyone, and that different styles can evoke different emotions and moods. I went with nostalgia – I wanted the room to be timeless, effortless and full of memories and all the different styles I love – an old faithful that I could rely on to make me feel relaxed and content. I don’t like interiors to match too much or look too uniformed, I prefer the quirky feel where different colours and patterns just sort of work together in harmony. Nostalgia to me means kitsch, junk shop chic, slightly silly and bright.

So I set out to find a bold, graphic print and fell in love with Kensington Charteuse – a Victorian style, hand-drawn print with a modern edge and striking colour-way – the perfect focal point for my mix and match style.


Kensington Charteuse Wallpaper £15 per roll, Moscow matte emulsion 2.5 litres £27, Lit Arrow £60 – all from Graham & Brown

To compliment the gorgeous wallpaper I wanted a paint that made the paper the main star, but was still a gorgeous shade in it’s own right. I opted for Moscow by Graham & Brown – a beautiful, muted putty grey.

Within a day I’d managed to paint the room which only needed two coats to cover the somewhat dubious pink it was previously (I know, I don’t know what I was thinking either). Even without putting the wallpaper up, the room began to feel different and had an air of stylish grown up about it.

The next stage was the paper itself. I’ve never put up wallpaper before so knew this could go very, very badly… But even as a complete novice, I can say with some confidence that it was actually pretty easy without any help. The Superfresco Easy paper is designed so that you put the wallpaper paste directly onto the wall, which saved a lot of faffing around as I didn’t need a pasting table and I didn’t damage any paper with my clumsy disposition. Start to finish it took me around 3 hours and we’re so delighted with the end result.





And side by side…

before and after

I never saw myself as a wallpaper type person before this challenge. I always felt they made rooms feel too much, too done but I’ve now realised that there truly is a wallpaper to suit any home, any style and indeed any person.

I can’t wait to spend many an evening curled up in my new room with a good book and as many crocheted granny blankets as I can stand!

To find your own perfect (wallpaper) match and events and ways to join in near you, be sure to check

Disclaimer: All decorating items and products mentioned were very kindly sent to me by Graham & Brown for the purpose of this challenge and post. However all words and opinions are entirely my own.

Mummy Bingo

Obviously, just a normal, quiet day can be Groundhog Day when you’ve got little ones. You’re most likely so achingly sleep deprived you’d seriously consider selling a kidney for a peaceful few hours in bed, yet instead you’ve got to make do with cold cups of tea and coffee and a few too many chocolate biscuits shoved in your face when little eyes aren’t watching you.

On the mummy win to mummy fail chart, you know, the one in your head, you’ll fluctuate wildly, zig-zagging all over the page. To your kids, you can go from the heady heights of a superhero, cape and all to officially the worst person in the universe, in a matter of moments. Especially if those moments include broccoli. Yet those days don’t go particularly right, they don’t go very wrong either.

However, when you’re fully immersed in the madness that is parenthood, you begin to fear those days. Those days are the ones where everything goes so horribly wrong, by the end of it you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or perhaps an ugly amalgamation of the two. Those days, absolutely everything possible goes spectacularly wrong, simultaneously.

These are the days the grocery delivery arrives, just as your child has decided to tear all their clothes off and wear the cat as a large furry hat – at a jaunty angle. Just as you’re hauling questionably bagged produce, the cat tries to make a bid for freedom from your child’s head, scratches them and darts out the front door, your enraged, naked mini me in pursuit.

Those days are the ones your child tries to brush their teeth with your fancy facial serum, or clean the toilet with your favourite perfume. Those days invariably end in someone crying like a jibbering wreck in the corner, if not both of you.

So I’ve invented Mummy Bingo (you’re welcome btw) – a score sheet of everything that can go wrong, and if you tick them all off during one of those desperately trying days, you win a cruise, lifetime supply of massages and chocolate or maybe even a sainthood.

Rather than numbers on my Mummy Bingo score card, there will be things such as…

Didn’t shower – again. Cake for breakfast. Child attempted to abseil up curtains. Broke a vase / priceless family heirloom / favourite mug. Poo on carpet. Child got carried away playing Angry Birds and threw your phone to the opposite side of the room. Cat sick. Unexpected visit from mother in law. Toilet blocked. Fish fingers for dinner. Ran out of coffee / wine / sanity. Had a weep while hiding in the airing cupboard / bathroom / under a large cushion

Etc etc.

What do you reckon? I’m on to something, right? However, while my amazing idea is in it’s conception stage, you may want to play some free bingo a little less wayward, with more chance of ya know, actually winning.


A great place to start is Bingo Extra, a fun place to play bingo and slowly unwind and switch off after one of those days once finally your little tearaway is tucked up in bed. Finally.


Only problem with my idea is I suppose they’ll need a fearless official adjudicator if they are going to reward with actual sainthoods. Sorry, I’ve just go to dab out Failed idea of how to find fame and fortune on my score card…


We’re just halfway through the summer holidays. That’s just three weeks. HOW HAS IT ONLY BEEN THREE WEEKS? In that time we’ve had a violent sickness bug stampede through the house, my kid’s been stung by a wasp, he’s gone to bed at 10pm and still had the sheer audacity to get up at 5.30am and to top it off, he’s called me a twat.

So all and all, we’re doing alright, yeah?

I reckon parents fall into two groups when it comes to the school holidays and half-term. Unless you home educate – in which case I need the number of your therapist.

On one hand we have the relaxed and calm lot, rejoicing the lack of early alarms, packed lunches and ironing – “Every day is an adventure!” they’ll tell you wistfully, while you wonder if you even have the appropriate footwear to conquer anything vaguely adventurey or outdoorsy. “I can’t wait for all the lie-ins!” they’ll cry happily.

Lie-ins? Eh? If we’re talking about anything past 7am – then I think we need to see other people.

Then we have the second group, quivering and nervous and oozing with self denial about what we’re going to face in the next few weeks, and how are we gonna do it, where routine and everything we know that’s safe flies straight out of the window.

I mean, come on, they must be knackered right? They have to be. Surely they could do with at least one pyjama day with a side order of Disney films and way too many baked goods? Alas no, before you’ve even got to the good bit with the singing lobster – the little blighter has ripped off his pyjamas, adorned them on his head in a makeshift turban leaving him completely starkers and is attempting his escape from a window.

This is the moment when you realise that you’re no longer enough. The second it dawns on you that this feral creature you helped to make needs other children, lots of land, big open spaces and padded stuff to fling himself from and no amount of craft projects, park visits or baking days will tame that for very long at all.


Other things that you’ll no doubt encounter over holidays-ageddon:

The day you need to wait around the entire day for a delivery – the elusive 8am – 6pm slot will leave you in a false sense of security that you’ll be able to get out at some point, all the way until it arrives at precisely 5.59pm. Or worse, NOT AT FUCKING ALL.  By which point the kids will have made it their sole priority for you to go completely grey by bedtime, you’ll have shamefully wondered if it’d be really bad if you just locked them outside for a bit, just a little bit and had a mini cry in the airing cupboard under the guise of finally sorting the laundry out.

Two: The relatives are coming! Did you know you can translate “summer holidays” back to an old Norse saying which means “Family will descend on home and cause great discomfort / self-loathing and lust for murder.” It’s true, y’know. Brace yourself for arguments with the other half, a home that smells of a sickening mixture of bleach, freshly cut flowers and potent fear all while your children hate you even more than usual as you’ve hidden their collection of rocks / Kinder Egg toys / dead leaves and brushed their hair too vigorously and told them strictly not to sing Baby Got Back near your mother in law.

And thirdly: Get down with the sickness. “Mummy? Mummy, I think I’m going to be si-” 48 hours of every plausible surface including you, the cat, and OH GOD DON’T GET THE CARPET! covered in projectile vomit. And worse. Simultaneously. You’ll mop their sweat soaked brows with cold flannels. You’ll boil wash every known item of clothing and bedding. You won’t even care too much when they miss the bucket and puke straight over you. The flipside is when you inevitably catch the noro-bastard a few days later. “Can we go to the park today, mum?” asked earnestly while you whimper and crawl up the stairs desperately trying not to shit yourself. Again.

You wait, kiddo. You just wait until your first hangover, I’ll get you back.

However you’re getting through the summer holidays, I salute you – it ain’t easy, that’s for sure. I can guarantee I’ll be the first mum at the school gates on the 3rd, pleading with them to take us back. That we’ve changed and we promise to never be later than 8.40am and we’ll do the reading book every single night, I swear.

No More, No Less

A bittersweet realisation struck me the other day. On our return from a long, hot day at the beach, our skin turned freshly pink from the sun, sand smuggled in every orifice imaginable and a happy, exhausted kid bursting with stories about the first crab he ever caught and OMG THE ICE CREAM and and and… All while covered in dirt from digging around in the mudflats and his hair full of saltwater.


I realised I was content.

I realised I was enjoying being this dude’s mum and spending time with him.

And there’s not many occasions I can say that’s actually happened.

Obvs it should’ve been a happy moment, but with the addition of the notorious Mum Guilt™ and Parental Doubt©, instead it was tinged with a generous dollop of  “I’m so shit. I’ve ruined his childhood,” and “Fuck, I better start saving for his therapy.”

Thing is, I reckon it’s still an unsaid thing, finding parenting a chore, something a lot of us cover up with self deprecating quips about needing to neck the gin / wine / any alcoholic beverage to hand (delete as appropriate) and hiding in the toilet with the door locked, armed with our phones and stolen Freddos and Smarties. Truth is I don’t really drink, and the last time I locked myself in the bog, the kid shat on the carpet outside the bathroom before I could hide away my contraband wrappers, wipe away the tear stains and allow him entry because ya know, sometimes 30 seconds warning of MUMMY I NEED A POO HELP IT’S COMING, ain’t enough.

What I mean is, we jokingly skirt around the issue, dance around it while the reality nips at our toes and we try not to let the pain reflect in our faces or the exhaustion show around our eyes, when all we want to do is collapse and weep for help.

I’ve been stuck in that seemingly never-ending cycle of wanting nothing more than to go back to bed before I’ve even properly begun the day, of feeling panicked and trapped, my heart racing, my head swimming with fear every time I’m cornered to play with my kid. Of having to physically force myself out the front door for every school run, every birthday party and outing, sweating, short of breath and shaking. Plus all the innocuous day-to-day parental tasks and required emotions and energy that simply feel impossible and out of reach, for the majority of my six years as a mum.

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It’s only now, after more than six years, that I can look back on a day and think “That was a good day.” Even with the house decimated and my kid’s parting shot when he goes to bed is “‘Night, OLD LADY,” while he tries to wipe his bogies on me.

It was a good day.

No more, no less.

And it’s enough just as it is, because it’s been such a long time coming.

A Family Meal at Harvester – A Review

I was recently asked if I’d fancy a family meal at my local Harvester (Rayleigh Weir) as part of their new initiative to get families around the table at meal times and spend more time together.

So in the spirit of things, Noah and I rounded up my brother, sister-in-law and little nephew along for some grub and family time (and unlimited visits to the salad bar, obvs).

We arrived around 12.30pm on a Thursday afternoon to find plenty of parking spaces and a very clean and welcoming outside seating area. Once inside, the very helpful staff had us seated quickly and immediately provided a highchair for my nephew and menus for us to peruse.


The restaurant had a really lovely atmosphere inside, with low lighting and spacious seating areas and even though there was a rather busy lunchtime rush, it didn’t feel loud or crowded. Our waitress gave us plenty of time to make our food and drink choices – or rather wait for Noah to change his mind 3 times (“OOOH SAUSAGES! I want a burger. No. PASTA! YES PASTA!”)

Once we’d made our orders, we had time to visit the salad bar which again was quiet, well-stocked and had plenty to offer even the children, however some of the salad items looked like it’d been out possibly past its best.

Our main meals appeared just as we were finishing our salads which was a great plus as it didn’t feel like we’d been waiting at all and the kids were kept happy munching warm bread rolls, cucumber slices and beetroot chunks and colouring in with the crayons and sheets provided.


I ordered the Harvester Beef Fully Loaded Burger – a beef patty topped with slow cooked BBQ pulled pork, bacon, Monterey Jack cheese & onion rings served with chips – sorry, not sorry diet. My brother went with the I Want it All Platter for one – Rotisserie chicken, chargrilled chicken thighs, gammon steak, chorizo & half rack of baby back ribs topped with fresh grilled pineapple and a Kapia pepper, served with chunky tomato salsa. My sister in law had the Full Rack of Smoked Ribs – Pork ribs, kiln-smoked in Cornwall over beech woodchips and finished on the chargrill. Glazed in a classic BBQ sauce. And Noah – finally – opted for the Simply Pasta – Cellentani pasta served with a yummy tomato sauce and grated cheese – with a side of chips, because why not? And as my nephew is going through the fussy eating toddler stage, he contented himself with food from the salad bar and pinching everyone’s chips!


We were all really happy with our food, it was well-presented and delicious, there were several minutes of complete silence while we happily stuffed our faces. The only minor point was that my brother’s gammon was really dry but he didn’t mind. Noah didn’t eat his pasta – I flipping knew he wouldn’t – nothing wrong with it at all, just the child’s aversion of the presence of sauce touching pasta.

Once we were completely full, the kid’s eyes began to glitter at the mention of ICE CREAM OMG ICE CREAM.  They had a Make Your Own Sundae each with a tiny bit of help from the adults- (Add your own wafer, fudge pieces, chocolate sauce, honeycomb sprinkles and Mini Smarties® btw).


We left with full bellies, somewhat sleepy from the carb overload and happy from a pleasent afternoon spent together – oh and balloons for the kids! We really enjoyed our meals and will definitely return.

Have you been to Harvester recently? What’s your favourite food to order from there?

Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary meals and drinks for the purpose of this review – however all opinion is completely honest and my own.

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