Friday, 28 November 2014

Baby Business: Week 35, Bump’s first shower

Brainstorming for new hair dressing client. Tick
Brainstorming for school ad campaign. Tick
Source promotional gingerbread men. Tick
Stop walking in to closed child gates! Tick

Got up this morning and waded through a sea of balloons to grab some yummy cupcakes for breakfast. Wholesome food perhaps not, but they are so scrumptious...

Why the balloons and cakes? Well, returning home from coffee with a friend, I was greeted by a house full of food, balloons and fabulous friends – a surprise baby shower. Thank you to Tori for organising the party and making sure bump got spoilt with an afternoon of gifts, tummy rubs and laughter as mum-to-be was put to the test with her knowledge of nappy changing and baby facts (I think I passed!). My friends didn’t get off scot free; they had to join in by guessing the name I have chosen for my little girl... if anyone put Bertha I won’t be amused!

Funny how names are such a fun thing to choose, but such a hard thing to pick. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes and as a result the world is made up of an array of weird and wonderful names, all chosen for their own special reasons by parents who have yet to actually get to know their child. Strange concept really.

At work we hark on about how important first impressions are – they can make or break a perception of a business in a split second, so why should this be different for our children? With businesses a name can paint a thousand images, portraying the services being offered, the types of customer being targeted, the style of the organisation, etc. So how much does a person’s name reflect who they are? It is after all a huge part of their identity, but does a name define them or will they define who they are.

All a bit deep for a Sunday morning, so back to my cupcakes! For me the name was easy - I have always had a girl’s name I love and it feels absolutely right for her (even though I have not met her). A boy’s name would have been a whole different kettle of fish - there was a shortlist, but even this was hazy... anyone for Maximus?

I have kept the name a secret so I can ‘try it on’ bump. When she arrives in to the world I can look at my gorgeous bundle of joy and I will know if that is the name for her. Despite endless interrogations from friends and family, my lips are sealed until my little girl arrives... after all, I think she would like to be the first one to hear her name.

On the ‘to do’ list:
Return dog-bot baby monitor – technology is only great when it works!
Put away all my lovely baby shower gifts – thank you everyone x
Not eat all 36 Snickers bars I got this weekend...
Start the full rebranding for our client that we have just renamed

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Baby Business: Week 34, Bump’s best friend?

Freelancers back off holiday. Tick
Google Adwords campaign kicked off. Tick
Tickets and advertising sales started for masquerade ball. Tick
Zebra swing constructed! Tick

It has been all hands on deck this weekend – mission baby paraphernalia. Fun and games have been had (along with tears and plasters) getting the cot bed put up, building baby swings, working out the Isofix child seat base, setting up the monitor system and then the child gates...

When you wonder around the baby shops and look at all these things it is definitely through baby-tinted spectacles, gleefully picturing how they will look in the nursery or how well they will co-ordinate with the car interior (that one’s probably just me!). I will openly admit that I didn’t stop and think about building, attaching or resizing these things – surely they will turn up exactly as they are in the shop...!

Flat packed packages mounted up and last to arrive were the child gates, at least these will be easy to put up... no chance! I don’t think I have mentioned much about my home before, and this will probably explain why the air went slightly blue around here this weekend! I live in a converted 15th century building, with nooks, crannies, lumps, bumps and general ‘skewiffiness’ that all add to the ‘charm’. However, this means that any straightforward jobs end up as mammoth headaches demanding krypton-factor style creativity to get things to work or fit. The child gates became one of these jobs.

I think I should point out here that the reason for the child gates is not because I think my little girl will come in to the world walking and climbing (though she will of course be majorly advanced!), but because I have a dog. A lot of people have asked me how I think the dog will be once baby arrives and I am not totally sure - after all, he has had the run of the house and been my ‘baby’ since he was a puppy, and very soon this is all going to change for him. He will be playing second fiddle to something way smaller and way noisier than him. So how is he going to react?

I have heard and read many stories in the past of jealous pets, over loving pets and dejected pets, which have all reacted very differently to the change in their routine and life. My dog is the most friendly, affectionate and loyal of Labradors who plays wonderfully with children of all ages and is amazingly obedient to commands – so surely he will be fine?

Whatever I think, I am fully aware that he is basically an animal. Hence the child gates. These now represent ‘dog free zones’ of the house where I know my little girl can be left without fear of an over loving dog slobbering all over her.

If any of you have any advice about family pets and new babies then please let me know. This is something that a lot of mums-to-be I have met have concerns about - the Baby Pet Balance!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Remember to open child gates.
Stop thinking every twinge is baby coming.
Stop playing with the zebra swing!
Book ad space for store opening launch.

Monday, 17 November 2014

That 'what's-going-to-happen-in-the-dark' feeling

I take photos for inspiration, to make me look at things and think about things differently, from a different angle or perspective. So off I went, camera in hand, large stick in other, to explore the woods as the sun set...

Now tramping round the woods in twilight hours may not be highly recommended, even with the faithful four-legged beast with me, but it draws out something quite different in the shapes and the shadows. It may give me the creeps and raise the hairs on the back of my neck, but that in itself adds to the experience (why do I do this to myself!!?).

I looked at the trees as the light and colours changed and it was as if they felt the 'what's-going-to-happen-in-the-dark' anxiety that I was experiencing, 'raising the leaves on the back of their branches’.

Coolness in calmness, the sun has gone and the moon awaits. There is patience in the waiting, an air of expectation, a feeling of a world about to wake.

Herefordshire, 2014

Friday, 14 November 2014

Life changes you whether you like it or not

Doug Eaton, a renowned painter, has also taken up my research challenge to find out if ‘time’ or our ‘surroundings’ change us more. This is what he had to say...

“Life changes you whether you like it or not, and I’m not saying everything is reactive, but a lot is.
When you reflect on the past there are always positives and negatives. I think I’m very lucky and very privileged , but on the other-hand I don’t feel I have the best life because of the things I lack, that I don’t have in my life.

You don’t notice how things change you at the time, you notice it over time, when you look back. You go along and life is not always very kind. It changes for you, you’re not in control of as much of it. Sometimes you’re completely and utterly in control and then that changes somehow over time, you become less confident and lose that control.

Painting is where I have control, it’s my driver and the reason to get up in the morning.”

‘What are the three biggest differences between 2014 you and 2004 you?’

“I’M LONELIER. I no longer have a partner and my family is just me and my Mum now, when I grew up in a warm friendly family. I am lucky to have good friends, but most the time it is just me and I work on my own at home and all my thoughts are only in my head with only ‘me’ to please, you have no one to share opinions and things with. You do what you think is best.

I’M FINANCIALLY BETTER OFF through my paintings. In 2004 I got a piece into the Royal Academy and a few years ago I changed my sales and marketing approach.

I’M OLDER. My body is less operative through old age. I will wake up in the morning with back ache and I now go to sleep with something to help... a little whiskey.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you think ‘time’ or our ‘surroundings’ change us more? Let me know the three biggest differences between 2014 you and 2004 you:
Or email me at

Doug Eaton is a renowned semi-abstract painter living in the Forest of Dean. He has work in many private collections in the UK and abroad. Find out more about Doug’s stunning work (a beautiful example below), visit

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Baby Business: Week 33, Down to earth with a bump

 New recruitment company branding done. Tick
Masquerade ball branding, website and program complete. Tick
Project plan for new client finalised. Tick
Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter books ordered! Tick

I know that not all mums-to-be feel the same, and we are all different in regards to our pregnancy, but I have actually loved my expanding waistline (and the fact I have felt totally justified in eating everything and anything in sight). My bump and I have really bonded, becoming one-and-the-same, which is of course how it will be from now on. The 'content' of my bump is not only going to be a part of me for the rest of my life, but also the most important thing in my life, and I haven't even met her yet... hope she likes shopping!

However, I do have a confession to make. From time to time I do forget about bump...

Stop the 'gasps' as I am told this is totally normal and it has made for some very entertaining moments for those around... What do I mean? Well, imagine your body suddenly developing a large 'addition' that protrudes outwards beyond your normal periphery. Now imagine trying to get used to that and readjusting your movements accordingly... let me tell you, it is not that easy. I have now successfully opened several doors on to bump, sat down landing bump squarely on the desk, got wedged in one very uncomfortable and extremely embarrassing gap in Debenhams (thank you to the lovely lady with the perm who tried to discreetly 'unwedge' me!) and this week I finally lost my centre of gravity with a thud!

As you have probably become aware, when I settle in to work mode I am pretty fixated, so it really is no surprise that I forget my 'bump to bending ratio'. "What" you may be asking "is that"? Well, I may not have always been the most agile person, but bending over to pick something off the ground has always been a task I have felt was fairly straightforward. Not, it seems, with several additional pounds attached to your front! That's right, I bent over to pick something up off the office floor and quickly found it was me that needed picking up... I literally toppled over. Definitely lost the 'baby business' balance there!

Note - even with all these 'mishaps' bump is fine, it is just my ego that is a bit bruised!

It is interesting how much mums-to-be have to adapt to change before baby even arrives. I am sure it is all part of the ‘gentle’ preparation for the big event, but I wonder how many of you mums-to-be out there are really ready for the changes to come.

I have spent this week (after my hospital bag shock of last week) thinking about this. I am completely prepared on a practical front - clients covered (overly so!), baby essentials all purchased and nursery complete... but what about the 'mental' side (and I don't just mean going nuts through lack of sleep!). How do you prepare for your whole emotional state and structure changing? For once I am not going to try to be clever and in control, I am simply going to leave that question out there for mums (and psychologists!) to put forward some pearls of wisdom. They will be much appreciated by us first time mums-to-be who don't want to admit that we are more than a little overwhelmed...

On the ‘to do’ list:
Not bend over to pick things up!
Get the address for my first NCT class.
Wash baby clothes (ahhhh).
Store photocopy paper at waist height or above!

Friday, 7 November 2014

"You know nothing and there is so much to learn"

Richard Vobes, author of Splidge the Cragflinger, took up my research challenge to find out if 'time' or our 'surroundings' change us more... here are his responses:

Does time or our surroundings change us more?
"Time, of course changes us. Life experiences change us. We have moved on from where we were ten years ago. For the better? The worse? I cannot answer. We cannot stop it. We have to accept it. "

What are the three biggest differences between 2014 you and 2004 you?

"Confidence: It slips away. With youth comes naivety beside it, the fearless conviction that you can do anything. Life proves otherwise or at least challenges this state of mind.

Circles: Although life is a journey, we really go round in circles. I find myself thinking about starting or returning to projects I started many years ago. I hope that this time I can bring a greater depth and understanding to them.

Importance: I think as you pass through the years, you start to discover what is important in your life and where you want to concentrate your efforts and thoughts, and what you don't. For me, I have thrown away the brash, loud noise and exchanged for the peace and smaller success

And the bonus one: You realise more than ever that you know nothing and that there is so much to learn - the question is will you take the challenge to try. Personally, I do try."

Have your say - do you think time or our surroundings change us more? Let me know the three biggest differences between 2014 you and 2004 you:
or email me

Richard Vobes is a Children's Author, TV Presenter, Entertainer, Film Maker, Award Winning Podcaster. Credits inc: TV's The Bald Explorer and author of Splidge the Cragflinger .

Find out more at

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Baby Business: Week 32; Pack your bags bump

Project planning for new contracts. Tick
Launch party planning. Tick
New salon opening posters designed. Tick
Nursery curtains up (thank you mum x). Tick

There I was this week happily minding my own business when up pops an email on my BlackBerry - my weekly pregnancy update: ‘Are you ready? You need to pack your bag for hospital – just in case’.
Just in case? Hold on, I have 8 weeks to go. That can’t be right. A number of flustered phone calls later and those in the know (friends who are mums) have firmly reassured me that there is no mistake... baby could be coming any day now!

Don’t get me wrong, planning in advance in one of my favourite past times. I think you have all realised by now that I am a bit ‘organised-friendly’, but you will also know that I have been happy to jog along growing my bump and sticking my head in the sand about the reality of ‘D day’! So to find out that baby could be in hurry to get out in to the world has made me face up to a few things...

1.       I need to make sure I am fully prepared for an early birth
2.       I need to make sure that work is all set to cope without me
3.       I need to get a new bag!

Now point 3 is easy! Funnily enough I love shopping and I love bags. Hours of shopping went in to buying my nappy changing bag - it had to be just right, co-ordinating with the buggy and my wardrobe! Yes I know – it is meant to be a functional item, but does that mean it can’t look good too? After all it is all about accessorising!

On a more serious note, the baby business balance is about being prepared. Us mums-to-be all face our own sets of challenges with the arrival of our babies, but being prepared will help us all. We want things to run smoothly, so removing any forms of stress and worry is key. When baby comes out in to the big wide world we want to give them 100% of our attention and dedication - we will only get one chance to look down in to our child’s eyes for the first time...

Am I prepared? Of course!
Despite my ‘ostrich’ impressions, I have spent a lot of time over the past weeks implementing new processes to make sure that my clients continue to receive fabulous services... the aim is that they won’t even notice I have gone!  

On the ‘to do’ list:
Pack hospital bag!
Stop panicking!
Don’t think too much about ‘labour’...
Make sure I have BlackBerry chargers plugged in everywhere!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The start of my new Short Story

An eye for an eye

“Too many turns.”

He kept shouting it again and again. “Too many turns.”

She wasn’t listening, she’d got this far despite his noise, his constant grating noise.

She winced at how pathetic he sounded, this once arrogant, mean, brash man, reduced to soiling himself right where he sat, tied to the guardrail. And still he couldn’t just shut up.

The waves were getting stronger in their impact, the tips of the waves falling down onto them. Visibility had long gone and the last of the daylight had vanished along with any hope of reaching the mainland before the storm took complete control.

Why had he not just left her alone, let her take the money and leave. None of this was part of her plan, none of this was what she had wanted, but he had not let her walk out of his life with or without the £2.2 million.

She’d always turned a blind eye to what was going on, what he was always trying to hide from her. She knew he was a crook, always skirting round the grey areas of the law and conducting muffled deals with suspect looking businessmen. She had turned a blind eye, jumped in her Range Rover and gone shopping, lunched with friends, whiled away hours at the spa. Diamonds twinkled from her fingers, arms, neck and ears and her platinum credit cards filled her purse.

But then he changed and she was no longer able to turn a blind eye, especially after he’d punched her in it.

Shocked, scared and with the pain burning through her face, she had simply ran out the door and into her car, hitting the central lock switch as she struggled to see through the swelling and pain. He had pounded at the driver’s window, pulling at the door and swearing at her. It was a minute or two before she’d realised that he was pointing a gun at her. 

A drop in time

Tranquility in a moment. The traffic silenced and the playground hushed as the ripples spread beneath the swans. Time was still. Time was quiet. Just for a moment.
Herefordshire, 2014

Does time or our surroundings change us more?

As part of the research for my new adult fiction book, I am asking the question ‘does time or our surroundings change us more?’. 

As we age and grow we change physically, emotionally and mentally, but change in our surroundings can impact our perceptions, our actions and our behaviour. So which is more influential? 

Our surroundings change as our personal situations change: we may marry, have children, buy a bigger house, we might move to another city or emigrate into another country and culture, and as this happens time keeps ticking on...

If you fancy contributing to my research - my curiosity hopes you do - then I’d like to know: 

What are the three biggest differences between 2014 you and 2004 you?

Short or long answers, weird or profound, obvious or surprising, linked to surroundings or time - interpret and answer in your own unique way. 

To take part, just jot down your answers and:
post on my blog
or email me

I’d like to publish your answers on my blog and if you have your own blog, FB, Twitter or website, then I am happy to link the post direct to you.

I look forward with interest to reading your answers and thank you for contributing to my research.

Baby Business: Week 31, Bump getting on my nerves

Holiday cover in place. My BlackBerry! Tick
Copies of client press coverage photocopied. Tick
Our own version of pop art created for a client. Tick
Nursery furniture built (love a good hint). Tick

Now far be it for me to be a drama queen (!) but what a week. Up until now I have been a fairly smug mum-to-be, having avoided morning sickness, major food aversions and swollen limbs (I promise I am not gloating). Plus, work has continued to thrive with little distraction from bump (apart from the slight forgetfulness in the early weeks and the sudden dashes to McDonalds for a double cheeseburger). However, this week took bump-induced ailments to a whole new level, ending up in A&E wired up to heart and breathing monitors and oxygen! Baby literally got on my nerves...

With the final trimester growth spurt, my body has been subjected to increasing internal pressures as baby starts her training for London2012 - back flips, kick boxing and long distance running (plus the odd attempt at the high jump). The result? Major pressure on my nervous system trapping several nerves and restricted my breathing... I never do things by halves!

I am on the mend now – assigned to the sofa for a few days, but still allowed on my laptop! Just part of the wonders of pregnancy.

This has been yet another eye opener. I am now only 9 weeks from d-day and I have had to admit that I need to temporarily stop my bid for business woman of the year. The baby business balance is about understanding what is best for my little girl as well as my work, and me in hospital is not good for either. I have also realised that my little girl is starting as she means to carry on – bossing me around and putting me in my place!

Hospital has been like a second home for me this week, as I was also there for a tour of the labour ward (it’s supposed to soften the shock on the day). The midwives were lovely, but I have never been in the presence of so many pregnant women in one go... wow, talk about ‘bump-upmanship’. Forget hair styles and fashion rivalries, this is real competitiveness: my bump’s neater than hers; mine’s higher than yours; I am carrying all out front...  

My lovely bump and I were happy to stay out of this. I was far more distracted by the moans and muffled screams from behind the closed delivery room doors. Not quite London Dungeons, but still more than a little distressing and real. And there’s always one isn’t there! That one person who likes to let you know they have ‘been there and done that’. Unfortunately this came in the guise of a pregnant mum of two who felt it her mission to loudly inform us all that pain is not enough to describe the agony of childbirth. Thanks for that! I have happily gone through the past 7 months with the belief that I will sneeze and baby will just pop out  - stop laughing, denial (as I often say) is great!

PS. I would like to thank the wonderful lady at the doctors (pre being admitted to hospital) who gave me her appointment as she could see I was distressed. There are still some wonderful thoughtful people in the world.
On the ‘to do’ list:
Butterfly stickers for nursery.
Hang ‘ickle’ baby clothes in newly built wardrobe.
Confirm buggy delivery.
Sort out recurring BT phone line fault in the office.