Before I had children, I called this one my ‘practice baby’. She’s never really been a baby though, not least for as long as I have known her; I rescued her as a middle-aged thing, a pair of solemn dark eyes staring out of matted hair and dreadlocks down to her toes. And now that five years have passed, I am almost ready to use the ‘o’ word. Almost, but not quite. She still has so much life in her. She is still such a part of our family. I have always been a little in awe of how this lady acclimatised to life in a home, after spending her years previous as a stray on the streets and a long-term inmate at a Greek dog shelter. She has embraced everything from cats (they ate rats at the shelter, but cats are our friends) to the Underground, to standing on the right on the escalators. Not to mention, four children. She gave me her whole heart when I brought her home, and I feel the weight of that heart keenly. I am never sure what to call myself in relation to Josephine. ‘Owner’ makes her sound like a possession, ‘parent’ too infantilising, ‘guardian’ suits, but is a little too formal. I settle for ‘friend’. I don’t know if she remembers how things used to be. When we were a three, me and Kirsty and Josephine and she came everywhere with us, trotting calmly by my side or sat on my… View Post

I’m never sure what to say about my mother. I think that she will forgive me if I confess that for a long time, our relationship could best to described as a disaster. I barely remember the happy memories; they were there, but few and far between, blighted by the screaming and shouting, physical violence – mine as much as, probably more than, hers – swearing and threats and ghastly power struggles that left both of us frustrated and sobbing, she on the sofa downstairs and me in my bedroom, nails dug into my face, coveting blood. The laughter was sandwiched between hysteria, confidences regretted the moment that they were breathed out into the air between us. It was hard for my mother and it was hard for me. There are family photographs proving that, long ago, I was a mummy’s girl. If I focus my mind, I can remember it: staring up at her as she sung us to sleep, thinking that she was the most beautiful, that she had the best voice, that the scent of her skin was the sweetest in the world. I envied her charisma, her sense of style and her hair, the way that charmed at parties, her laughter, the way that people looked at her. And I wanted to be her, to read her books and to watch her shows and to grow up to own a house just like ours, to raise two daughters like her, to drive my car how she… View Post

Twelve years ago. Or fourteen. Or ten. It doesn’t matter really; the story is the same. Some days I only got out of bed to pee, burrowed like an animal in my duvet, throat tight with the anxiety that tomorrow was a brand new day and at some point I would have to face the teachers irritated that I had not shown my face. Other days, I went in and reported to the headteacher before assembly that yes, I’m here, still alive, and at the end of the day I would do the same, to confirm that I was leaving the premises and my death, if it occurred, would occur on somebody else’s time and premises. If it sounds a little dramatic, that is because it was. I’m afraid that I always rather enjoyed a little melodrama; it distracted me from the utter bleakness that I felt when my body wasn’t punctuated all over by little wounds, or the will-they-won’t-they of discovery. The tricky thing is that I am a mother now. It took a little while, and the adjustment to motherhood was not the easiest for me, but I’m ok. And yet my body has these scars. Some of them I don’t mind so much; they are almost beautiful, like silvery fish darting across my skin. Others are ugly; frankly, I would prefer my breasts unscarred and my thighs look positively misogynistic (no more walking around in short skirts once my sons are old enough to read, I suppose).… View Post

A few weeks ago, Chelle, one of the absolute nicest bloggers I know, messaged me to ask whether we fancied catsitting for her in Brighton over the bank holiday weekend. We’re no strangers to Brighton as my grandparents used to take my sister and I quite often when we were small, and I was lucky enough to introduce Kirsty to Brighton on a day trip earlier this year, and we absolutely love the city so we were super excited to accept. Public transport with four aged two and under is always a daunting prospect but Brighton is only two hours from home, and – distracted by a picnic, the laptop, and approximately thirty million games of Row, Row, Row Your Boat – the children were fantastic on the outbound train. We shan’t talk about the return journey because frankly, I’d like to pretend that my toddler had never somersaulted off of a train seat, almost landing on a fellow passenger, thanks to his hyperactive bouncing whilst we tried to convince him to sit the flipping flip down! It was such fun to watch the urban greys and browns transform into fields and woods, and the boys were so excited to see airplanes parked like cars as we sped past Gatwick. I think that housesitting is my new favourite way to vacation; it was so nice to walk in to a proper family home, and all of the children had simply the best time playing with Chelle’s little boys’ toys. In… View Post

I was such a scruffy little girl. I felt my sense of unbelonging keenly and I wore it in my unbrushed birds-nest hair, dotted amongst the dirt and freckles on my nose. New clothes embarrassed me; who was I to wear something so shiny, so fitting and clean? Other times, I wore new clothes like costumes, like excess skin; draped over my mother’s stolen bra, swollen outward with a pair of satsumas wrapped in socks. Once, in the middle of a meal at a Chinese restaurant, one of those satsumas plopped out of the neckline of my dress, rolling once before sitting, fat and undeniable, between my half-glass of wine and my aromatic duck. I was prepubescent and mortified; a flaming mess. I might, I think, be ready to laugh about it. It’s taken almost twenty years. So it’s come as much of a surprise to me as to everybody else to find myself writing about fashion, with a tiny tribe of well-dressed little humans running up ahead of us in their new shoes. I think that I am ready to own that I am a kids’ fashion blogger. I have a keen interest in what my children are wearing, and I try to allocate our finances in such a way that gives me maximum choice as to what they wear. My children wear everything from Next to Mini Rodini, brand doesn’t matter to me as much as style; my preference is for their clothes to be comfortable, aesthetically pleasing… View Post