Five Signs It’s Finally Summertime

Sun’s Out, Washing’s Out

It’s the hallmark of adulthood: you wake up on a sunny day and you think ‘ooh, I can change the bedsheets today and get them dry by tonight. How lovely.’

Sun’s Out, Pegs Out

You can finally wear your fab new Zara skirt you bought months ago in anticipation of heat. You know, the one your tried to wear with tights and boots in the March snow. 🙄

Sun’s out, Bike’s Out

The worst bit of winter (other than relentless illness) is having to wrestle kids in to car seats whilst your bum is sticking out of the car door getting rained on and your feet are in a puddle (‘just.put.your.arms.in’). Now it’s sunny, you can pop them on their bikes and wheel around gleefully.

Sun’s out, you’re out

You’re in the park at 8.50am and playing in the garden til 8.50pm. It’s remarkable how less annoying your own children are when they’re surrounded by horizons

And finally…

Now I’ve dug out the paddling pool, put away jumpers and got the kids in shorts, it’s almost guaranteed to start raining. Or snowing. Sorry.

Abortion: the upcoming referendum.

Abortion has never affected me. It’s an option I was dimly aware of. It’s a privilege- and a sign of my privilege- that abortion is just an obvious, legitimate, legal option for a woman who is pregnant and doesn’t want to be. From what I’ve gleaned, it’s an uncomfortable and unsettling procedure. That’s as far as my thinking had ever gone on it.

Then, mostly through social media, I became aware of the upcoming referendum in Ireland. There will be a vote on whether they should repeal the eight amendment. At the moment, that amendment puts the rights of the embryo or foetus equal to the rights of the mother. That means abortion is illegal in Ireland. The vote is either Yes- get rid of this amendment and decriminalise abortion or No- keep it as it is.

If you live in Ireland and become pregnant but don’t want to be then your only two legal options are to continue with the pregnancy or travel to the UK for a termination. One other option is to take a safe but illegal abortion pill- an option which carries the risk of a 14 year prison sentence.

It saddens and appals me that women anywhere -but especially so close to home- are not free to do as they please with their lives and bodies. It infuriates me that wealthy women have the option to travel for an abortion but those with less resources don’t. It angers me that dicey science, religion and politics are used to justify something that disempowers women. But it motivates me to stand up and fight with and for my sisters.

As an English woman who will be completely unaffected by the outcome of the referendum I am completely unqualified to speak about this other than I will do whatever I can to support a woman’s right to choose

I don’t have to agree with all women’s choices but I will empower her, however I can, to make the best choices for her.

If a woman happens to believe that abortion is terrible she should go right ahead and keep any unwanted pregnancies she may have- that’s her choice and she’s free to make it.

Fine for her, not for everyone.

If a woman happens to believe that abortion is her best option that she should be able to go right ahead and have a termination- that’s her choice and she should be free to make it.

Fine for her, not for everyone.

The sisterhood -that vast and powerful and wonderful network of complicated and kind women- accepts all thoughts and walks. By repealing the eighth- by voting YES to women having the right to their own bodies- we are allowing women two options: to have an abortion or not. Everyone can still do what’s right for them.

Want to support your sisters? Here’s how.

If you don’t want to offer financial support, just raising awareness is helpful. Start conversations.

I also recommend reading some of the incredible stories on @InHerIrishShoes on Twitter

If the religious side of it interests you, then this podcast is about a large group of religious leaders from all backgrounds who formed a network to enable women to get access to abortions in America. They discuss why they felt it was their religious duty to help: listen to it online here http://www.thisiscriminal.com/episode-70-the-procedure-7-7-2017/

Unless you are an Irish citizen you cannot donate to the Yes campaign.

Here are some other options for supporting the campaign.

Buy a Black and Beech Yes necklace for £20 and all profits (£10) will go to the Together for Yes campaign.

https://www.blackandbeech.com/product/together-yes-necklace/

Crowdfund a person’s travel home to vote:

Donate to the Abortion Support Network https://www.asn.org.uk

Whichever side you fall on, I support you with whatever decision you make. Let’s enable everyone to make the right decision for them by repealing the eight amendment.

For more information, please follow these links:

https://www.togetherforyes.ie

https://www.asn.org.uk

https://www.bpas.org/abortion-care/considering-abortion/advice-and-counselling/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abortion/

Tat ‘n’ TV: stuff I’m loving

My mega 583 followers on Instagram mean that I’m basically an influencer and media dahling and will soon be hashtag spon by some mega cool* brands. But for now: here’s my likes of the month. For free.

*who says ‘cool’ still? Who says ‘mega’?!

Black(ish)

Fast, funny and makes some excellent points about race. Love it. Tracee Ellis Ross is hypnotic in it: I dream of her character’s wardrobe (because I’m deep, y’all)

On Now TV

Topshop Mom Jeans

Best. Jeans. Ever. Apart from the fact I drank too much beer on my holidays and now they don’t fit… #worthit

Gressenhall Workhouse and Farm

A whole day out. It’s £11 to get in but free for teachers if you bring your staff badge and you can buy and annual pass for £20 which gets you in to all Norfolk museums. Read more about it here. Told you I was ‘mega cool’.

In the Heart of the Sea

Big boats. Monstrous sea animals. Survival story. Not for everyone but I bleddy loved it

Faves to Follow: Insta / Online

Fashion

Does My Bum Look 40?

Make up

The Small Things Blog

Politics

Together for Yes

Follow on Insta for updates about the Ireland referendum on abortion

Laura Mercier lipstick

Matte. Stays on for ages. Loads of shades and all look fabulous.

Podcast

Criminal

Twenty minutes-ish. True crimes. Addictive. Start with episode one. Download or listen online.

13 Stages of a Girls’ Weekend Away

Heavy traffic on the WhatsApp

Between the dental appointments, school trips, husbands’ work, grandparent availability and alignment of the stars it has got to take at least six months to find a date you can all go. You then need to message each other a steady stream of weather updates and countdowns.

Classic content

Location location location

Where does the local airport fly to? Which is the warmest destination? Done!

Sunshine? I’m in!

Disbelief

‘I can’t believe we are here!’

‘It’s actually sunny!’

‘I can’t believe we are ACTUALLY here!’

Wild abandon

Beer. Wine. Beer. Wine. Beer. Local food. Beer. Karaoke. Suddenly it’s 3am.

See how the day progressed?

Anxiety

You’ve slept until 8am. You could sleep for another six hours but is that wasting valuable kid-free time? Or should you make the most of the lay-in? But what if it’s sunny and you could be tanning outside a cafe somewhere? But what about sleep? Oh god!

Cultural Repentance

You feel like you should do something cultural as you are a grown up and Trip Advisor says the modern art museum is ‘unmissable’. Happily, art galleries are the perfect place to be hungover: quiet, empty and air conditioned.

I am an adult and I enjoy art.

Hair of dog

Someone, at some point, usually around lunchtime, will say ‘I think I’m probably ready for a beer…’

Time flies

How is it 5pm already? Let’s just have one more round then…wait! What? How is it 10pm all of a sudden?!

That spiralled quickly

Neglect

You haven’t brushed your hair since Wednesday. You’re sunburnt. You’ve eaten nothing except calamari. You’ve staved off scurvy purely by eating the lemon out of your sangria. Your bowel movements are in havoc. Your mental well-being is at the top of its game, though.

Bliss

Late night revelations

‘I’ve known you ten years and I NEVER knew you use a flannel! Who uses a FLANNEL?!’

Morose wind-down

It’s the last night. Someone points on ’90s ballads on Spotify. You snuggle in for the last few hours of chitchat and laughter. Man, you’ve had a good time. Can you believe you have to go home tomorrow?

Airport regret

You should’ve gone to bed six hours before you did: not three hours before your flight. You’re broken and yet you’ve got to somehow navigate security and passport control. Your brain is mush. You’re never drinking again.

Home

Your kids are nonplussed with your return. You eat all the vegetables in the salad drawer. You get on the WhatsApp to tell everyone you love them and you miss them and ask them how their calendars are looking for October half term.

I’ve Never

It’s Friday(Saturday/Thursday) night so let’s put on a comfy cardie and get down to it!!!

Wahoo! LaydeeZ and gentz, grab a drink and let’s plaaaaay ‘I’ve Never…’

For those who’ve ‘never’, let me explain. The rules are simple. I say ‘I’ve never’ and if you have then you derrrrink.

Down it! Down it!

Let the gaaaames begin!

I’ve never…given my kids Calpol and sent them to school hoping they make it ’til 3pm

‘It’s only a minor fever. You’ll be fine. Now get your shoes on’

I’ve never…told my child soft play isn’t open at weekends

‘I don’t know why, sweetie, but that’s what the website says’

I’ve never…lied to the school about being too busy to help out with school trips

‘Oh I so wish I could but…’

I’ve never…had a grab bag of onion rings and a bottle Pinot and called it supper

Can’t face cooking. Haven’t done a food shop in a fortnight.

I’ve never…sent my children to school with unbrushed teeth/nits/dirty uniform/unmatching socks

Every day, pal.

I’ve never…threatened to cancel Christmas/a holiday/the tooth fairy/ a birthday party

‘And I mean it this time!’

I’ve never…put Trolls on at 10am

Close the curtains: call it a ‘cinema’.

I’ve never…bugger. I’m out of gin.

IWD: a survival guide

International Women’s Day is bloody ace. It’s a reminder to pay thanks and gratitude to the sisterhood that has your back all year. It’s a moment to celebrate women who’ve previously been ignored. And it’s a cracking good chance to reflect on a year’s progress. And what a year!

But there’s always a few who can’t understand it. Here’s the usual responses and how to counter them

What about International Men’s Day? How can you talk about equality when you get a day and we don’t?

You do. It’s in November.

I’m all for gender equality but it has to work both ways

That’s what gender equality means. To use synonyms, ‘all people are equal’. Gender=men and women and all genders. Equal=the same. You can’t be ‘more equal’.

Some feminists take it too far

Can you give me an example? Oh the suffragettes?! What a great 100-year old example. Men do dreadful things for power* and 100 years ago women did dreadful things (mostly to themselves) for equality. But yeah. Sure. Any more recent ones?

*96% of killings are by men and most of the 4% by women are in self-defence.

Women make a fuss about the small stuff- it’s ridiculous

Emojis matter. Blue liquid in sanitary towel ads matters. Language on birthday cards matters. Slogans on tshirts matter. We HAVE to sweat the small stuff because it signals that we will not tolerate the big stuff.

How can you be a feminist and…?

Wear lipstick? Work part-time? Use the word ‘wife’? I can be a feminist and do the heck I like- that’s the point. As Caitlin Moran says: ‘feminism isn’t a set of rules, it’s a set of tools’. And women AND men can use them.

Women have equality now

Privilege is saying something’s not a problem because it doesn’t affect you.

You’re a white, middle class, privileged woman.

Good point. I am. And I have a voice and a platform and I want to use this privilege to educate and reform. Intersectional feminism is about knowing the feminism and inequality and priorities vary depending on background and experience. But don’t silence my voice, just include another. Don’t ask ‘why should I listen to you?’ But listen and then hear someone else’s voice and experience too.

Sister. Mum. Me. White Middle Class women doing their best.

11 Stages of a Snow Day

Hope: the night before

Obsessive checking of the weather. Constant chat on WhatsApp. Mentally listing all the things you can ‘get on with’ if you have a day at home. Relentless running to the window to check the weather.

Agonising Optimism

It’s 6.15am. There’s a disappointingly inconclusive layer of snow. The Schools Closure website shows no schools closed. Refresh obsessively. You just need one hero head teacher to take the plunge and they’ll fall like dominoes. C’mon!

Pyjama Roulette

Stay in bed. Stay in bed. Stay in bed. Wait for text from school. Stay in bed. Shove wellies over pjs to de-ice the car. Refresh page. Check work emails. Text colleagues.

Anger

‘Surely they won’t make us go in when there’s MASSES/dusting of snow on the roads?’ Fake news of car pile-ups surface on WhatsApp. It’s irresponsible! This is the stage at which you may well reluctantly start putting your bra on.

Unencumbered Joy

School’s closed! Wild dancing. Disbelief. Euphoria. Delight.

Boden Moments

Everyone’s in bobble hats and laughing like goons and the world is white and quiet and full of play.

Fall Out

You’ve stayed out too long. Gloves are lost. Snow’s gone down collars and up sleeves. You bundle everyone in.

Steaming gloves and boots in puddles

TV marathon

Kids watch crap whilst you look at everyone’s snow pics on social media.

Round Two

You’re ready to go out again. Gloves are warm and damp from three hours on the radiator. You feret in the downstairs cupboard for old coats and miscellaneous gloves.

Alex has had his wellies parcel-taped to his trousers to stop the snow falling in. He’s wearing slipper socks for gloves. As am I.

Early to Bed

Hot chocolate. Hot water bottles. Bed.

Dreaming of just one more snow day…