Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Lost in Malibu

I may have mentioned that I left a part of me in America, that part that keeps calling to me to come back and emerse myself in this amazing place. Torn between home and another life, I often sit daydreaming about my American life. My mind will drift from place to place that I have seen and loved, places I settled temporarily and others I passed through, lingering in lost parts I discovered. Today I drifted back to Malibu and this old pier cafe. I can feel the pull.

Malibu Dreaming

Sunday, 29 March 2015

my week...

What a week. Busy preparing for Easter holidays, lots of fun planning to have fun. Daily doodles continue and the odd tweet and blog comment to those I follow. Then, when I was just minding my own business tootling along, my blog visitations goes up by a zillion percent (my maths isn't good enough to work out the exact increase, but it was a case of "Whoa, what's going on"!).

Wow, thank you for all those fab new visitors. I am putting it down to a post I made on my Stories and Stuff blog on Monday 23rd March, titled 'The five books I have never read' as part of #IHaveNeverRead. Read the blog here >

I really enjoyed writing that post as it was almost like a confessional. It was also a realisation that I can just stop going on about 'what I haven't done' and just 'get on and do it'. So I have. Books ordered and on their way.

So what about the rest of my week in blogland, writerland and creativeland...

My favourite doodle this week:

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Baby Business: Week 12, Why Mummy why?

Downloaded software for ‘Scout the Dog’. Tick
Sussed out how to program ‘Scout the Dog’. Tick
Pondered how baby’s toys got so advanced. Tick!

Pain, blood, tears and poo - another week with my little girl. 

That day had arrived, the day all new mums dread... the day we allow our tiny little babies to be stabbed (and not once but twice). Inoculations round one. 

My giggly bubbly baby sat beautifully as the nurse checked she had the right patient (!?). Just as Little One was throwing the nurse one of her award-winning smiles, the nurse stuck a needle in to her leg – immediate transformation from harmonious beauty to wide-eyed screeching baby. A flurry of soothing noises and multiple jiggles on the knee and Little One began to calm down, just in time for jab number two in the other leg, this time drawing blood. Oh, that look of pure horror and confusion. You could just hear her thoughts, "Why? Why would you do that to me? Why Mummy why?” Oh the heart strings...

And it all happens again in 4 weeks. Maybe this is a job for Granny?!

For those of you (like me) in the dark about the potential side-effects of baby’s first jabs, then I would like to bring a very special one to your attention.
Yes they can be very dozy for a few days.
Yes they can end up sleeping quite a bit.
Yes their legs can be a bit tender.
But the best? Mass bottom explosions! 

Wow, how can such a delicate beautiful little girl produce so much from her bottom? Forget the nappy - nothing was stopping this torrent. Up the back, round the neck, over the head, down the legs... no surface untouched within a 2 metre radius.

After literally 45 minutes of wiping, washing, bathing, rewiping, rewashing and rebathing, I got my clean little baby back on her (now sterilised) changing mat. I felt a great sense of achievement. We had survived our first major nappy-catastrophe with relatively little carpet staining and only two sets of outfits (each). With a sigh of relief I look in to the eyes of my beautiful little girl, she looks straight back at me, the corners of her mouth start to turn up in to a heart-melting smile and then she promptly wees all over me, herself and the new clothes I had laid out. And that smile of hers? Now a full blown giggling fit!

What can you do? Laugh too... it was after all very funny (more for her than for me or the nursery carpet).

Baby’s firsts:
Poo in the hair!

Business first:
Poo on the draft accounts!

Monday, 23 March 2015

The five books I have never read...

Reading Lucy Mangan's post on the Penguin Blog (#IHaveNeverRead: Lucy Mangan confesses.) got me thinking. Lucy writes about 'books we have somehow just never quite got around to reading' and then confesses to those that she has never read, and the reasons why.

There are, without doubt, a number of the 'have you seriously not read that' books that I have not read. The great works of literature, the books that change whole genres, books that got the world in a tizzy, books that are written with such sublime beauty and style... books that constantly make the 'top 100 books you must read before you die' lists.

But, slightly smugly, I have just finished studying several of these top 100 lists and can state that I have read a large percentage of them. The ones I have not read either appear on the list below, or I actually have not got the inclination or desire to read. Maybe that is wrong of me, and I am constantly trying to broaden my horizons, but I like what I like and there are only 24 hours in a day (of which I try to sleep for 9 of those) and I need to eat, work, be a mum, walk the dog... excuses excuses, perhaps. But the reality is we are drawn to things as individuals, and although the mass pull of the flock of sheep often takes us in a different direction, we will pretty much always wander back to our own literary path.

As it happens, this year I have challenged myself with trying new genres and authors outside my comfort zone. I have purchased a stack of 'quick reads' and am learning a few things about what I didn't know I liked. I am only purchasing books that I have seen reviewed and are rated highly, even though they may not be my normal cup of tea. So far I have read some fantastic books that I would never have normally glanced at. I have also read some that I wish I had not even glanced at!

Anyway, I am sidetracking from the point of this blog (as I often do). Lucy Mangan's post got me thinking that it's time to read those books that I have always wanted to read, but for some reason put off. Here are the five books that sit at the top of that list:

1. The Handmaiden's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I have read so many of Margaret Atwood's wonderful books and I love them, disturbing as some may be. So I have absolutely no idea why I have not read this one yet. Acclaimed and often listed as her best, I have 'meant to buy it' for so long that I actually forget. Tcht.

2. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I've watched the TV series, seen the film and listened to it on audio cassette (yes, I did say cassette). I watched and listened to my big brother laugh hysterically as he read the books as a teenager, yet I never read them. Why? Well, when you've watched something and heard something as a kid, you feel 'you've done it' and that's that. Move on. But as you get older you realise that it is not the same. I want to read and laugh like my big bro did.

3. A Miss Marple Book (any) by Agatha Christie
I fell in love with Miss Marple when she was played by Joan Hickson from 1984. The stories were my first (not even a teenager yet) exposure to the world of murder mysteries and I loved them. Transfixed, I watched every one of her appearances as Miss Marple, yet I have never picked up even one of the actual books. Shame on me.

4. Aesop's Fables
I have actually read a few of these as a child, rudimentary infant school teachings. However, they are quoted throughout day-to-day life in various guises and I know the sayings so well, and indeed the meanings, but I actually do not know all the stories in full. They are such wonderful tales and characters that I have always wanted to sit down and pour over the complete works. Now I will, as I read them to my daughter. Perfect.

5. Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
This may appear a strange choice of book, isn't it a movie? Yes, it was a multi-award winning film starring multi-award winning Tom Hanks, but this film made a real impact on me and that is why I want to read the original book, which was written eight years earlier.
As a carefree teenager, my friends and I headed to the cinema to see a film I'd never heard of and knew nothing about. Educated in cinema going through Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, it came as a revolutionary smack in the face to watch the quirks and transitions and relationships of this strange character, Forrest Gump. Wow, amazing to discover that stories didn't have to be simple, standardised and rules need not apply. The world of possibilities literally opened up in front of my eyes. That's what happens when you live in a sheltered bubble... it has to pop at some point.

So there you have it, my five books #IHaveNeverRead.  Your turn now, what books have you always meant to pick up and dive into?

Sunday, 22 March 2015

And spring has sprung

Bursting out of the wet, soggy ground and the grey and white skies, spring is coming. Each ray of sun, each blade of green grass, each unfurling leaf and each new shoot climbing and untwirling into an array of colour that is Spring.

My week...

The sun has been out this week and the world is starting to wake up around us. Leaves and blossom popping out, bird song gathering volume and smiles appearing on people's faces (not obscured by woolly scarves and hats). The days are getting longer, so the children can play out and people can walk their dogs. I love the summer evenings, and it feels like they are emerging. Happy week.

And happy week in blogland, writerland and creativeland...

My Favourite Doodle This Week:

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Baby Business: Week 11, F is for Freddie Frog

Opened all Little One’s Christmas presents. Tick (just!)
Stayed awake to see in the new year. Tick (only because Little One wouldn’t sleep!)
Found space for all Little One’s new toys. Given up!

Happy new year to you all. 2011 is here and how different life is! This time last year I believe I was still recovering from the over indulgences of new year celebrations. And this year? More like bottles of milk than bottles of bubbly. And I love it.

Between opening the mountain of presents for Little One and the continual eating (me and the milk monster), I spent the Christmas week learning about the wonders of baby’s toys. The bright colours; the beeps, buzzes and doinks; and the bits to press, pull or squeeze. It is a true education in understanding your little ones... the toys we adults like are the very toys our little ones show no interest in. The more garish the colour, the weirder the noise and the more it clashes with the decor – then that is the one they love.

It’s at this point that I need a sanity check from all you mums and dads out there... Is it just me or do you also end up naming every animal toy? I now have Freddie Frog, Horace Horse, Carla Cow, Sid Squid... the menagerie goes on. I can’t help myself. Is it the creative marketeer in me or is it the unfulfilled dreams of becoming a zoo keeper? Either way I am getting raised eyebrows from my friends and the people working at Costa Coffee.

But you know what? Little One loves it and greets every single one of her newly named animals with a big chuckle, so the menagerie is here to stay.

Back to ‘normality’ now (what’s that then?!) and I have resisted the urge to share my new animal friends with my clients. However, I have managed to gain inspiration from Terry Toucan whilst naming a client’s new business... now that really is a baby business balance! Shhhhhh, don’t tell my client that his new business is named after a plastic squawking baby toy!

Baby’s firsts:

Business first:

Terry Toucan!

Monday, 16 March 2015

My week...

Ooops, a day late, but I was pooped yesterday. Got back very late, after a lot of driving, and just about managed a very silly doodle.

However, a day late is better than nothing and it has been a full on creative week. Working on new client material, which then took a back seat (sorry Mr New Client) for an exciting project development...

But less of the snippets and more about the rest of my week in blogland, writerland and creativeland...

  • My first attempt at flash fiction, literally based on a dream I had (don't judge me!) Dreaming. Again. >
  • It appears I was a walking cliche as a new mum. Baby business blog >
  • I discovered that people do actually still say 'bog off'. See >
  • Warm Grey was this week's #colour_collective colour of choice. Meet Ellie >
  •  Ickle Monday saw ickle jellyfish floating about wibble wobble >
  • I designed wallpaper, but which colour should I go for? >
  • I did a doodle today... and every day this week. Take a look >
  • Discivered Stapelford Park House, and the wonderful culinary delights it bestows
  • Got a button heart and smiley handprint... best Mother's Day gifts ever

My favourite doodle this week:

Friday, 13 March 2015

Baby Business: Week 8, A walking cliché

  • Oooooo’d and aaaaaahhhh’d at the pretty snow scene in the garden. Tick
  • Watched the snow pile up on the car and driveway. Tick
  • Been out with little one in the snow. Forget it!

10 weeks ago...

Sporting my very large bump and munching carefree on a Snickers bar, I mused to myself how I was not going to be one of ‘those’ mums. You know the ones. The ones that spend all their time going on and on and on about their ‘super-babies’, so named as they are the first babies in the world to have ever done anything...
“My baby is so advanced”
“Did I tell what amazing thing my baby did last week?”
“Have I mentioned how my baby already has an IQ of...”
“Wait till you see what my baby can do”
“I don’t like to brag, but isn’t my baby the most beautiful child ever”

I also vowed that I would have more topics of conversation than the noises my baby makes, how cute her little outfits are and the contents of her nappy...

10 weeks on...


Worse still, I actually heard myself utter the immortal hated phrase of ‘mums-to-be’... “motherhood is like nothing you can ever imagine”!

I suppose it is not that surprising I get over zealous about this new chapter of my life. I have always been completely passionate about everything I do. When in work mode I am totally consumed by all things ‘marketing’ and everything I achieve. I quite merrily yack on about different aspects of marketing and business, and spend countless dinner parties sharing my views!

So it only goes to follow that I want to share (overly eagerly) the single greatest achievement of my life to date... my little girl.

By the way, did I mention that she is by far the most beautiful baby ever?!

Baby’s firsts:
Becoming a ‘lady what lunches’! Sat through a four course Christmas meal in a restaurant... not bad for a 7 week old!

Business first:

Dabbling my toes in to the publishing world...

Monday, 9 March 2015

Dreaming. Again.

"Hurry up, you'll be late for school."

Mum is shouting again from the bottom of the stairs, exasperation filling the air.

"ALRIGHT. I heard you the first time."

I can feel myself getting wound up. It's only been 5 minutes and I can't smell the toast yet.

"Victoria, you are going to be so late. What are you doing up there?"

Seriously, she's only just called me. What's wrong with her. I'm going as fast as I can, at least... I am, I don't want to be late, but... where are my tights, I had them on a minute ago when I put my skirt on. Where's my skirt... where's my shirt and I'd brushed my hair, I remember looking in the mirror and noticing another spot, but I haven't even cleaned my teeth yet.

"Victoria. I'm losing my patience."

There she goes again, hassling me when I'm already dressed and ready to go. I've been ready for ages... my bed feels so warm, I don't want to get out. Just five more minutes then I'll turn the light on and get up. No, I'm already up and dressed... why is it dark, why does it say 3am on the clock by my bed.

Who's that. I saw something, something moved.

There it is again.

I need to see, I need the light on.

There it goes again.




Where is she, she's been shouting up the stairs for the past hour. No she hasn't, she can't have, it's too early. But I heard her, she was calling me again and again. She didn't stop, she was really worried, why was she worried, was she crying. I heard her crying, she was hurt, I could tell, but I didn't go to her. I wanted to, but I couldn't. I was getting ready for school.

No. No, that is not it. I was trapped, I couldn't get to her. I couldn't help her. I wanted to help her, I wanted to help my mum. Why couldn't I help her, she was hurt and crying and I left her.


It's too dark, really dark, and cold too. I'm shivering, but we have the heating on, we always have it on low in winter to keep the ice from getting in. The blue ice that comes from the north, the ice that cracks our bones and breaks our hearts. I can feel it now, scratching at the door, searching for a way in. It's so cold.

"Morning darling, time to wake up. You've got your field trip today so you can't be late. Do you want me to put some toast on?"

"Mmmmmmm, maybe. I'm still tired, is it cold out?"

"Cold? Not at all. The sun is out and I've put suncream by your bag."


"Yes darling."

"Were you crying last night?"

"Crying? What made you say that? No darling, I went to bed just after you."

"Oh, it must have been a dream. Never mind. I'll get up now."

"Ok darling, I'll go and put that toast on."

My clothes are all ready for me on the chair. I wash slowly, my thoughts stuck on my dream. Why do we have such weird dreams. I didn't like it, I could still feel its lingering presence like a shadow in my mind. I spit and rinse and brush my hair. Oh, another spot.

All dressed, but I've forgotten something. Something I have to do.

"Hurry up, you'll be late for school."

Mum is shouting again from the bottom of the stairs, exasperation filling the air.

"ALRIGHT. I heard you the first time."

I can feel myself getting wound up. It's only been 5 minutes and I can't smell the toast yet.

"Victoria, you are going to be so late. What are you doing up there?"

It's getting darker.

It's getting colder.

It's happening again, I've been here before. 

I can't stop it. And I can't find my tights.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

My week...

Sunday again - happy Sunday all. Been a bit of a bonkers Sunday here and a bit lazy too (doodled it for you >), what have you been up to today? The week has bounced along amidst some glorious bursts of sunshine, battered slightly by some sneaky icy winds. So much has happened and all very positive, the change in weather definitely helping a change in mood and other things too... More about that another day.

Had a load of lovely new Twitter followers this week too - hello to all my Twitter and FB followers, hope I am providing some form of entertainment and thought? Let me know.

So what's been happening this week in blogland, writerland and creativeland...

My Favourite Doodle This Week

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Baby Business: Week 7, Santa or Scrooge?

Christmas tree up. Tick
Survived Christmas shopping with baby. Tick
Christmas presents wrapped. No chance!

I love Christmas and all that goes with it, from the decorations plastered everywhere to the cheesy Christmas tunes playing in every shop. I get completely in to the spirit of things. So it is no surprise that this Christmas is going to be the most special one yet... my little girl’s first Christmas. The only problem is that she (at 8 weeks) will be completely oblivious to it, other than the sparkling lights on the tree of course!

This brings me to that age old dilemma I understand many very new parents have: do you bother with presents? I mean, she really isn’t going to know and what’s more she has just had a huge amount of gorgeous gifts following her birth. Having spoken to my family it seemed that the general consensus was much the same, with offers of ‘a little something’ to put under the tree. So do you think we are all ‘Bah Humbug’?

Well don’t... Grandpa has already called to say he has wrapped all of Little One’s presents (all!); Granny has just bought another ‘little something’ she couldn’t resist for her new granddaughter; and Nanny and Granddad have just got back from Harrods... something tells me Little One is going to do very well this Christmas!

And me? Well, one trip to Bluewater later and the car boot is packed with toys and several (couldn’t resist) outfits for my little girl. Oh, come on. It is Christmas.

As for that tradition of hanging out a stocking for Santa – will I be bothering for my 8 week old? Of course! And what’s more, Little One WILL be leaving Santa a mince pie, a very large glass of sherry and a Bonio for the Timba the red-nose labradeer.

PS. As we are getting in to the Christmas spirit, I have a confession to make... for those friends and family who asked me what Little One wants for Christmas, I have to admit that she didn’t really ask for the new Jamie Oliver book or the Take That CD or the latest series of Desperate Housewives on DVD...

Baby’s firsts:
Exposure to CBeebies courtesy of her new best friends, Maddie (3), Lily (2) and Evie (1)... oh shades of things to come! Igle Piggle and Ninky what???!!!

Business first:
First set of Christmas ecards for clients... more to come. Ho ho ho

Sunday, 1 March 2015

My week...

Another week, another Sunday and another Monday dawning. Now I am a 'glass half full' kinda gal, so I am saying all that with a smile and anticipation for what the week ahead will bring.

A lot (as always) has happened this week, but next week sees me quietly stepping away from my children's books and back to my grown up books. My head is whirring with excitement as I have been away from these stories for too long and I cannot wait to open up my work-in-progress and reread the opening chapters (trying not to cringe too much at the crudeness of the writing at this stage!). I am also starting a new short story for a writing competition, one that will be (I hope) quite emotional. All in all, a busy and exciting week (weeks) ahead.

My week in blogland, writerland and creativeland...

My favourite doodles this week: