Because I’m Happy…


Since my recent post on things that make me happy, I’ve thought quite a lot about happiness and I’ve decided to write regularly about things that make me smile – partly inspired by one of my favourite bloggers Kathryn, who writes Kat Got The Cream, and who regularly posts a Happy List. So here goes…

First up, the amazing print above – made by The Lovely Drawer and on sale at Not On The High Street for £20. I think this would look great next to my desk at home.

Our new cat. Well, we are kind of cat-sitting her, long-term, for a friend who has just moved into a small flat. We’ve had Thumbles (aka Baby Puss aka Puss Face) for a month now and she’s already a member of the family. She loves curling up at my feet when I’m in bed. She loves being chased by the four-year-old while she shouts “HELLO PUSS PUSS!” a little less.

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Days out with the family. Last week, we went on The London Eye followed by a trip down the river to Greenwich on the Thames Clipper – SO MUCH FUN. We did nothing in Greenwich apart from eat cake (me) and ice cream (the four-year-old) before coming home, but this weekend, we will be heading to Greenwich Theatre where we’ve been invited to see Adventures With Sam: In Outer Space, an interactive theatre show for kids. Apart from the obligatory Peppa Pig Live, we haven’t done much kids’ theatre yet, but I’m so excited to start going to more productions. Growing up, we went to see endless family shows, and I have such brilliant memories of trips to the theatre.

Beautiful stationery. I’ve got my eye on a desk planner by Betty Etiquette and I might also splash out on a notebook or three.

Betty Etiquette pad

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What Couldn’t You Live Without?

It’s a hard question to answer.

Obviously, friends and family are the first thing you think of, but if we’re talking about things, not people, your mind starts racing between all of the things you use, and rely on, on a daily basis. British Gas asked me to think about this, as part of their #NotWithout5Things campaign and it was TRICKY!

1. My iPhone – I know, what a surprise! But when I think about it, I can do so much with this little thing. I can take and store photos (and memories), I can work, I can blog, I can catch up with friends on social media, send text messages to family members, oh yeah and I can make phone calls too.


2. Tea – I love a good cuppa. It’s a very British thing to say, but a good cup of tea really does make most things feel a bit better. And that first cup of tea in the morning? Bliss. I’ll have mine strong, with milk and two sugars please. None of that green stuff, thank you very much….

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Why Shared Parental Leave Makes Me Want To Jump For JOY!

If you’re a parent, or you’re thinking about becoming a parent any time soon, you’ve probably heard the talk of Shared Parental Leave recently. The concept makes me want to jump for joy. As both a feminist, and as someone who coped miserably during my first year as a mum, I’m giddy at the thought of this change in law.

In case you’ve missed it, Shared Parental Leave kicks in for anyone with a baby due on or after 5th April 2015. It will allow the mum and dad to share up to 50 weeks leave to look after the baby between its birth and first birthday. You can take it separately (mum takes first six months, dad takes second six months) or you can take it together and overlap leave. Unlike maternity leave, you don’t have to take it in one block – you can take up to three blocks of leave and return to work in between, as long as your employer agrees. You have to be eligible (and as Rachel from The Little Pip explains over on her blog, it’s tricky to work through all of this) and you have to apply in the right way but an employer can’t refuse your application – it’s your right.

The new legislation has its critics – in this thought-provoking post by Sarah Ockwell-Smith,  the parenting expert says she thinks it devalues mothers if they sacrifice any of their time with their new baby, in order for the dad to spend time with the baby. She says she would like to see new fathers receive at least six weeks paid paternity leave and the option to take up to a whole year at reduced pay after this. “In addition to this they should be able to attend antenatal appointments and classes whilst still in receipt of full pay, as mothers currently do,” she says. “This leave should be completely independent of anything the mother receives.”

She has a point, of course, but any step towards equality is a step in the right direction.

As a new mum, I would have wept with joy at the thought of being able to share parental leave with my husband. On my last day of work before maternity leave, I cried in the office loos. I didn’t want to leave. Obviously I was excited about having my baby and meeting this new member of our family, but I didn’t want to leave work. I worked for a women’s magazine and I loved my job – properly loved it, skipping to work every morning and being a massive geek, working late and everything. I couldn’t imagine not doing that job for the next year. I realised that my job was a huge part of my identity. It was who I was. It was incredibly hard to step away from that for a year, and not really be able to admit this to the world, because as a woman who’s about to give birth, it would be wrong to be anything but filled with joy, right?

But more than that, I felt a bit pissed off, if I’m honest. Pissed off that society dictated that I should take a big chunk of time out of my career to look after our baby, while my husband would take two weeks of paternity leave and then head on back to work. It’s probably worth me noting here that I think it’s pretty tough on the dad too. To have to wrench yourself away from your partner and new baby after two weeks, and head back to work, leaving this fragile pair at home to cope alone, all whilst fighting sleep deprivation, must be seriously tough.

I know, right now, you’re probably shaking your head and thinking I’m a terrible mum for even thinking these things. Why become a mum if you’re not prepared to sacrifice things – things like your career, even for a year?

But my point is that as a couple, we both decided to bring a child into the world, so we should share the sacrifice. Unlike in the 50s when it was assumed that the dad would go out to work and provide for his family, while the mum stayed at home to cook, clean and look after the kids (ooh apart from my gran, who was a working mum in the 50s!). There are obvious reasons for a mum to be at home with her baby to start with – her recovery for example, after having just given birth to an actual human person, or if she’s breastfeeding her baby, something which sadly men can’t do (when will they invent that?). But after that – bring on the Shared Parental Leave, I say.

My feelings about parental leave don’t just stem from being a massive annoying feminist though. They also stem from the fact that if this legislation had been around five years ago, I probably would have stayed sane during the first year of my daughter’s life. Instead of sobbing quietly as my husband left for work every morning, staring ahead into the empty day before me, unsure how I was going to make it to 5pm when the Alan Titchmarsh Show would come on TV and signal that the day was nearly over (I will always have a special place in my heart for you, Alan), I might have enjoyed that year. If we’d had the option of sharing this time at home, navigating our way through early parenthood, things could have been so different.

So I’m THRILLED that this is happening (can you tell?) and if you want to find out more about it, head over to the website and also check out this video that my lovely friend Katie made with her husband for Tots100 where they discuss it. And if you do nothing else, read this Buzzfeed article and look at the amazing photographs of Swedish dads with their kids – part of a photo series by photographer Johan Bävman, which shows what the relationship between father and child can be like when they’re allowed to spend more time together.

What’s your view on Shared Parental Leave? Do you welcome the change, think it’s just a gesture or think it’s a mum’s natural place to be at home looking after her baby?

Swedish Dads, Johan Bävman

Image: Swedish Dads, Johan Bävman

The Boden Spring Shoe Of Dreams

Every now and then (OK, every new season) I get a bee in my bonnet about a pair of shoes. Once I’ve seen them, I can’t get them out of my head and I either buy them or spend months regretting it – feeling pangs of sorrow each time I see them on someone else’s feet.

So let me introduce you to this Spring’s lusted-after pair…

Boden silver lace flats

I actually started getting slight palpitations when I saw these shoes on the Boden website. Isn’t that a bit mad? I bought a similar pair in black back from New Look back in December  – they’re a more affordable version of the Aquazurra shoes worn by fashion blogger Laura from WITblog.

New Look laced flat shoes

I’ve worn the black pair loads, but when I saw the SILVER! To me, metallic is a neutral, so these bad boys will pretty much go with everything in my wardrobe. Jeans, cropped trousers, dresses, skirts…

Just as an FYI, they also come in orange and navy and they’re not cheap at £89.99 but look at them…. they’re worth it, right?


 With thanks to Boden! For details of how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.


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You might have noticed this blog has been a bit quieter this month. Actually, if you’ve noticed, you’re probably one of my six regular readers so HELLO.

I wish there was a real reason as to why this has been the case (Ta daaa I’m pregnant! Woo hoo I’ve been working on a top secret project! Oh yay I’ve been on a fitness mission and I’m now a teeny weeny size 8) but no, I’m afraid the truth is a dull: I’ve been a bit busy.

Work has been busy, life has been busy, and if I’m honest, every time I sat down to write a blog post, I was either too knackered (and ended up curling up on the sofa, drinking wine and watching The Good Wife on Netflix) or I would freeze – suddenly unable to think of anything I could write. What could I possibly have to say that people would want to read?

“You haven’t blogged in a few weeks so whatever you write next better be really good” a mean little voice in my head would say.

I would think of an idea – like the post I started writing about millennials and how I think I was born in the wrong decade, leading onto talk about how I am in fact (wait for it) millenni-JEL of those pesky 20 somethings who are all digital natives and have the world as their oyster. But as quickly as I’d think of the idea and start writing it, I’d tell myself it was a terrible idea and no one would possibly want to read it.

One particularly anxiety-ridden evening (*shakes fist at last Tuesday*) I considered deleting my blog and social media accounts. Ha – the drama!

But don’t worry, I’m only that person very occasionally and I don’t often let her out or even talk about her. Dramatic anxious Alison. I’m usually happy Alison, brimming with creative ideas and the confidence to put them out there. So anyway, here I am. Writing and pressing ‘publish’. HEY THERE!