Hebden Bridge

Saturday 29 January 2022

There is just no beating a great day out and, this weekend, a trip to Yorkshire’s arty, free-spirited Hebden Bridge proves to be just that…

“The best way to arrive in Hebden Bridge, at the western edge of the Pennines, is by train…”

I read in Paul Barker’s Guardian article, Hebden Bridge: West Yorkshire’s cool and quirky corner. And arrive by train we certainly do. In fact, I boast a 100% commitment to public transport; making a double bus plus local rail odyssey to cross the border from Greater Manchester into the white rose county. Quite a trek on a windswept Saturday! From the station, it is a short walk, past the Arts Cinema and Victorian Town Hall into the town centre.

Now, as you might have suspected, the main reason for leaving the car at home, is to free both me and my companion up for sampling the local alcoholic beverages. But the beer has to wait…until I have finished shopping. Yes, famed for its independent retail, Hebden Bridge is home to an arts and crafts market, pottery shops, vintage stores, several antique dealerships plus quaint outlets for soaps and candles and confectionary around every corner. It is the perfect place to potter, browse, while away the hours and, in my case, spend spend spend! (I do have three birthdays to shop for.)

The town also has an abundance of cafes and eateries. We lunch on woodfired pizza, mine an incredible vegan chorizo combination, with peppermint tea and eventually, of course, do find our way to Vocation Brewery and the NightJar Bar for some well earned and much appreciated craft beer. (Though, enboldened by the Dutch courage, I do dive back into the arty stalls… to treat myself, check out my fabulous new glass coasters!)

And then all too soon, and by now a little tipsy, it is time to head home. We didn’t find time to stroll along the canal walk, nor for the walk to Heptonstall, resting place for Ted Hughes’s first wife, Sylvia Plath. Maybe next time? We certainly did have a wonderful day out and how needed it was after the grind of the working week. Escaping to somewhere new and something different has really raised my spirits, so I’m off to plan a February jaunt… this could definitely be a monthly feature for 2022…

Waking up to 2022 …!

22 January 2022

When your 82 year old mum announces that she has ‘taken up Tai Chi’ and your only claim to 2022-fame is a 16 day winning streak on Wordle, you realise it’s time to start taking the new year a bit more seriously!

It is on a family meal outing that my amazing mother, half-way through a recommendation for an ‘apple, spinach and ginger smoothie’ she starts each day with, pauses to casually throws in, as an aside, her foray into martial arts. The rest of us nearly choke on our nachos!

It is supposed to help me improve my balance…”

she explains calmly, with an air of innocence but a mischievous sparkle in her eyes.

Well, balance or no balance I have to say she is looking fantastic on it! And it it in that moment, right there and then that I decide to shake of the mild torpor and feeling of a ‘covid-hangover’ with which I have stumbled through January and get up and do something! So here is last week …

I run! With gloriously-perfect timing one of my run buddies re-emerges from a long, post-corona recuperation and we hit the Lancashire hills bright and early on a chilly Saturday morning. The exercise is good, if tough, but the chat is even better. It is, we agree, the loveliest of ways to kick off the weekend.

And secondly , I go vegan … well I attempt exactly one vegan meal! Towards the end of December 2021, I did go further than this and propose a ‘Veganuary’. To my surprise, Smallboy, the most committed carnivore on the planet, was very much up for the challenge. I, however, did not get my act together at all and New Year’s day came and went without so much as a carton of almond milk being added to the supermarket trolley. This week, with renewed vigour, I determine that all is not lost and that one vegan dish per week still constitutes quite a culinary change and onTuesday night, we contemplate … tofu.

The thing with tofu Mum, ” advises my Eldest confidently over the phone, “is to build in flavour and texture. I often coat it in flour and deep fry; it is really good!”

What could be simpler?’ we tell ourselves as we chop for a stir fry. Probably many things, I would now conclude. Before our horrified eyes, both the tofu and flour disintegrate into a mushy paste in the wok and feature as scarcely more than a smooth thickener in our sauce, when we eventually slop the meal onto plates. Nonetheless, we are hungry, the sauce and veg are very tasty and I am close to ticking it off as a plant-based triumph until Small boy observes,

Err Mum…I think we used egg noodles!

Arghhh; next week we will do better!

And last but not least, I, or should I say we, will also continue to play Wordle. Yes, I discover that my son has also discovered the daily word puzzle and tends to solve it at least 1attempt more speedily than me. “I always start with ‘adieu’ mother … 4 vowels…’ he explains and I have to admit; that is pretty smart!

So wisdom and inspiration from the older and younger generation for me this week. It has been a pretty good week, so long may it continue…

A New Year … with some blasts from the past!

15 January 2022

This is my first post of 2022, so “Happy New Year!” Uncharacteristically however, I find myself a little out of sync with the advent of this novel chapter of life. As the seasonally resolute launch into fresh starts, new regimes and forward thinking with enthusiasm, I spend much of my initial fortnight taking a trip down memory lane…

See the source image

Well, quite frankly, no-one could blame anyone for wanting to retreat from the jaw dropping January chaos of Boris’ unbelievable Britain! New channels and social media can scarcely keep apace with all the scandal and speculation: Downing Street parties, sozzled civil servants, surging omicron cases, disgraced royal princes and soaring energy prices. It feels like utter madness and misery, which why, were this the catalyst, I know that I’d be forgiven for looking wistfully back to a simpler time when I was young and wrapped up with friends, boyfriends and schoolwork. Back in a bygone century, with only 4 channels on the TV, not a mobile phone in sight and at an age when I was only half aware of anything that was happening out in the wider world.

But the reality is that I don’t find myself reliving some of my past because of any of this. No; it is all far more straightforward! I am contacted unexpectedly by some-one I went to college with; whom I have not seen or heard from for over 30 years. How exciting! We re-live classes, teachers, social exploits and gatherings (some of which I can only dimly recall.) And it is fun. So much so that I decide to really wallow in girlhood nostalgia and challenge Alexa to bring back the soundtrack of my youth.

Now, I spent most of my late teens, clad in black leggings and Ts, lying on my bedroom floor listening to The Smiths, convinced that Morrissey was the only person on the planet to truly understand me. A champion of teen angst he may well have been, but for an aging mother of three, Mozzer wailing through the house is a bit of a mood killer, so I wind the clock forward a few years and go for Alanis Morissette instead. And that is much more like it!

“And what it all comes down to. Is that everythin’s gonna be quite alright.”

I warble along lustily, dancing around the kitchen making tea; I feel fantastic. My chance re-acquaintance may have reminded me that I was once under 25, but the music … I swear that it actually takes me back to an age when I was carefree and finding my way in the world. Maybe it does? In at number 4, on Saga’s Top ten ways to feel instantly young again’, is voyaging down memory lane by looking at old photos or listening to music from that time. Similarly, Wes Baines in an article outlining how youth is defined by ‘action not age‘ suggests that,

“Looking back at your life doesn’t have to remind you of what you’ve lost—it can remind you of what you still have. It’s easier than you think to slip back into that youthful mindset when you surrounded yourself with music and photos and loves from that time of your life.”

I can certainly recommend it as an uplifting hour, if nothing else. Further, I venture a tentative ‘yes’, that a 1980s/1990s kitchen disco brightens my outlook a little and helps me start to look ahead to the new year, with some of the ambition, hope and optimism that I had all those years ago. We shall see… and in the meantime, Alanis certainly knows how to write a great song…

You live, you learn
You love, you learn
You cry, you learn ….

You Learn : Alanis Morissette

Good week: happy mum!

Friday 29 January 2020

Well cheers to us this evening! I am feeling super proud of my trio of teens. This has been a good week…

In a corner of the North East, my Eldest makes it through her first set of University exams. She doesn’t get the results for a few weeks but, frankly, I couldn’t care less about any scores. I find it blooming incredible that, despite being left to study Medicine from a laptop in her Uni room and having no face to face teaching or learning for 11 months, she gets her nose to the grindstone, grapples with huge quantities of complicated new knowledge and revises and prepares like an absolute trooper. Simply astounding!

Back home, Prom-dress daughter faces her EPQ presentation. The stresses of Lockdown aside, my middle child has flourished academically at sixth-form. These days, I’ll be frank, we all struggle to keep up with her! I marvel at the reams of research, as I agree to read her final epic of an essay. Tentatively, I suggest the occasional comma but, if truth be told, the sophistication of the arguments and the complexity of the ideas are beyond me and I mostly just content myself with being happily in awe! She has loved writing this piece of work but standing up to present it and face questions from a panel of students and tutors? Alas, for my shy, quiet girl, that is a terrifying thought. Her only option, to control those nerves, is preparation. She gets tips from college, from her dad and from one of my fabulous friends and grafts away, using the advice to get ready. And come Thursday morning, just as I am starting a live lesson from the lounge, I hear her bravest ‘game face’ voice from upstairs launching into her presentation. Yes, I’ll confess to a little tear and know I couldn’t feel any prouder.

And so to Small Boy. It’s a first GCSE music performance for my son, also over the electronic ether. It’s a piece of film music that he has found and taught himself. And it is beautiful. I do love film music and having the romantic and evocative melodies filling the house over the last few weeks has been wonderful – at times, as my talented boy adds rich chords and plays around with the tempo, it has felt like having little bit of my dad back. But, above all, the reason I feel most pleased with my youngest child is that, like his sisters, he puts the work in. Yes, he practises that lovely piece to perfection. And, as he tunes in looking a little green but emerges all smiles from the recording, let’s hope he realises; that’s what gets results!

And thus, the week ends. There’s a bottle of Malbec for me, a gift from my boss for helping him out with a piece of work. I fill a glass and sink onto the sofa feeling tired but calm and happy. Kids! They can be such a worry, but at least in this rare moment I feel confident that mine are going to be okay; inwardly strong, resilient and ready …. for life? Hey, I am sure it will be a different story next week but, for now, I raise my glass,

To you teens – top efforts this week!”

Milestones

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Twenty six days into my 2021 resolutions, I have 26 runs and 82 km on my Strava . Gracious me, that’s over 50 miles!

Throughout January, inspired by Ron Hill and his 52 years and 39 days record of running every day, three and a half weeks of tootling around the block every day, and a little bit further at weekends has brought me to this landmark. Incredible! Who knew that a 10 minute jog on a daily basis could add up so quickly!

I am ready to stop though. Yes, come the 1 Feb, I will be giving my running shoes a well earned rest. I have really enjoyed the daily dash. I go a little bit further each week. I go a little bit faster too. I feel energetic, oxygen fuelled, clear skinned and bright eyed. More importantly I feel calm, refreshed … and self-indulged. And this is why I love a New Year Resolution. Whilst psychologists may decry resolutions as needless self -pressure to impose upon an already demanding world, and even the health and well-being experts queued up to espouse this view as we finally consigned 2020 to the history books, I think the complete opposite. I find that our new year tradition is one of the only times in the calendar when I do focus on myself. It may only be 10 short minutes each day, but it is , nonetheless, time when I just think about me. Not my teens. Not my job. Not my mortage. Not the sometimes bleak future….just me… and my crazy January goals! And as 2021 dawned, after a year when the demands, stress and, above all worry, about everyone and everything had threatened to crush me , I needed this more than ever.

But I realise tonight, as I burst back into the house, trainers muddy, leggings soggy and face glowing with the cold, that I am better. And that means, that 5 days from now, it is time to stop. Because I am ready to get back, back to the grind and the gruelling but above all the glorious roller coaster of life a mum, an educator and someone who thinks life is about probably about something more important than kilometres and run schedules! Of course I’ll still do my weekly 10k, I might even do occasional circuits of ‘the block’ but its adios to charting my progress, checking Strava every evening and thinking that a day without a run is a failed one!

On the news today there is a far grimmer milestone . Covid deaths in the UK top one hundred thousand for the first time. It certainly puts life into perspective. I need to start focusing on the small contribution I can make to this current situation. Because if miles are covered one step at a time, who knows what we can achieve with many individual efforts to see this through and play our part. Rejuvenated by my month of running , I now have the energy and strength to try again…

“To get through the hardest journey, we only need to take one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping…”

Chinese proverb

Me and technology …

Saturday 16 January 2021

Is it only me, or are teenagers not the most tolerant as their mum tries to cling onto the rapid pace of technological change in the 21st century …

Okay, I’m not as quick or slick as anyone else in the house when it comes to texting, scrolling and scanning on the mobile phone. Admittedly, I can whirl around the electronic ether in bewildered circles trying to connect to a friend on Zoom. Yes, I do accept that my failure to ever load more than 2 songs onto the i-pod did, in fact, condemn us all to Robbie William’s ‘Candy and ‘Moves like Jagger‘ on endless repeat during one very long (and tense) car journey to Wales. But the palpable embarrassment, the eye rolling and the mocking laughter from my offspring really does not help. At my lowest, it make me feel old and flustered. And the irony is that I used to be pretty good. I was even whole school ICT trainer about 20 years ago! It was, if the truth be told, three maternity leaves, yes the arrival of the trio of doubters themselves, that threw me off course. By the time I made it back into the workplace, the world has moved on and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since.

Most days I can see the funny side. Nonetheless, I resolve not to tell the teens about my electronic exploits at work…

My first major foray into the wonderful world of Microsoft Teams comes in November with the Year 11 Mocks. A week out from the start of our exams, thirty pupils are sent home to isolate and I take the decision to concurrently run mocks remotely for those not in school. Knowing that I’m not the most confident with new technology, I compensate by being over-prepared and arriving very early to start each session. And all runs smoothly. Numbers wax and wax further as ever-more covid cases hit pupil attendance, but I rise to the challenge. So much so that by the start of week 2, I become a bit blase and that is where things go a little pear-shaped.

It is a ‘double-mock’ day. English Lit runs like a dream and I allow myself the luxury of going to lunch, nonchalantly popping back with only 2 minutes to spare for the start of the Science exam. I find the Teams chat already a flurry of activity,

Miss we can’t get in; 10 of us are stuck in the lobby”

Has the exam started yet Miss – I’ve been trying to get in for 5 minutes?

To my horror, I find that I can’t get in either! Not only that, but I cannot even see the lobby! Battling rising panic, I tap out a reassuring reply.

Hi everyone. There’s problem at our end, Give me 5 minutes to work it out!

I hit the edit key and scour my invite like a crazed hawk trying to work out what has gone wrong. Then another message pops up

Where is everyone? Five of us are in an exam but Miss isn’t here? It does say ‘English’ though, not ‘Science’?”

I gaze in shock at the screen. Where on earth are … any of them? Could I go down in history as the first teacher ever to have pupils floating around lost in the electronic ether? By now I have over sixty pupils doing mocks at home, and, in increasing numbers, they all seem to join the chat with queries and questions. In the growing chaos, one poor trusting soul even types,

Don’t worry. Miss knows and is sorting it all out.”

Well she had more faith in me than I do at this moment!

And then suddenly, from somewhere, inspiration strikes. My strained eyes notice that I have sent the meeting invite out as a face-to face meeting. I click a button to switch it to ‘Teams Meeting’ and … boom, problem solved! Pupils’ face flood onto the screen. I instruct the famous five sitting in the English exam to leave their exam and re-join us in Science and we are ready to start. I smile, in glorious relief, at the gathered ranks and decide to dodge the blame,

The school wifi !” I fib , with a helpless shrug of the shoulders, “Thank you all for being so brilliant and hanging on . Anyway. Science. Have we all got our equipment ready …?”

Thereafter, I go back to arriving 20 minutes early for every exam.

One upside of my mock exam adventures is that when we do shift all lessons online, in response to, pupil cases, staff shortages and then Lockdown, I am feeling pretty confident, even proud of my middle-aged voyage on this steepest of learning curves. Until that is a message from a Year 10 pupil pops up at the Leadership Team meeting

Miss – why is tomorrow’s lesson at 5:30pm?”

Yikes! ” I confess “It should be at 2. I’ll change it now

OK Miss. Thanks -no probs

Well, on the bright side, at least my pupils are a lot kinder than my own children…

Cheese pie, sprouts and beer!

Friday 8 January 2020

Home-made cheese and onion, with chutney and a few brussels all washed down with a dark fruity stout- could there be a better way to end a very long week…

With a third national Lockdown, schools closing and exams cancelled, it’s certainly been a challenging 5 days, but I do feel okay. And okay for me at the moment is a lot better than usual.

Yes, on a more serious note, my mental health has been on a downward turn in recent months and threatened to spiral out of control over the holidays. For the first time ever, I went to bed on Christmas Eve dreading that Christmas Day would be a ‘1 out of 10 day’, terrified that I would not be able to paint on a cheery festive face and make sure that everyone had a lovely time.  I live at a comfortable ‘5 out of 10’ most of the time. Not great, I concede, but sufficient to function and ‘fool the crowd’.

Above all, I hope that I can be as happy as you always seem to be!”,  a pupil wrote on a thank-you card to me a couple of years ago. And I recall feeling shocked and an utter fraud. I almost ran after them shouting,

Please please please, let me be a role model for anything but this…because this is a lie and a sham. I  actually can’t remember what ‘happy’ feels like!”

But I didn’t. I just smiled, pinned the card onto my board with all the others and faked on with the day!

But something about corona virus has knocked even this stoic ‘get on with it’ spirit out of me and, to my horror, as the sun rises on 25 December, I feel the dark cloud of despair descend and although I do drag myself out of bed, I am gripped with a panic about ruining the day for everyone.

Until this happens… people arrive. It’s mum and an old friend, and just these relatively new faces really cheer me up. Thereafter I have the meal to prepare and the busyness and sense of purpose, not to say challenge for this self-confessed cooking calamity, drive the darkness away and I am able to ‘keep calm and carry on’.

And Christmas continues in this way. Friends call on Zoom. The teens’ Dad visits. And all of it is a wonderful change and distraction from the news and the gloom and the horrible uncertainty of our covid-world. It also gives me a wake up call.  I need to be occupied and I need goals and diversions. Parenting is tough; single parenting even more so. My hobbies are a life line because, they give me space to be me again. Not only a Mum marking the march through life with the lines on her face. No the me who still feels 25 on the inside and loves that when she runs, she feels the strength in her body and the oxygen in her lungs. Loves that when she plays music she is part of the noise and feels her emotions soar.  Loves that when she tackles some tricky maths, or reads a great novel (or even writes a blog post) the numbers, concepts and words dance around in her mind forming and re-forming and making new thoughts and ideas.  But at more basic level, my hobbies keep me busy. If covid has taken some of this away; I need to put something back

So my resolutions for 2021 are formed. Forget ‘Dry January’, writing a novel or training for a half marathon! These are simply about well being and routine. I commit to: drinking at least 2 litres of water a day, running at least a mile a day (The Ron Hill idea), and doing 2 yoga workouts per week. 

And after a week of my new regime, I am feeling okay; focused and stable. I enjoy ‘Yoga with Adriene‘, a rare space of 40 minutes that seems, luxuriously, about self-care. The water; well probably my favourite thing of all, as it gets rid of the scourge of daily headaches. For the first time in years, I walk past the the anadin-extra shelf  in the supermarket, without adding a weekly box to my trolley. As for the running – well what a week to start! Weather- wise, it is more than ‘grim up North’  as January 2021 gets into gear, it is the bleak bloomin’ mid-winter. How much do I feel like running as I arrive home in the cold, ice and fog? I struggle to think of anything that seems less appealing. But I make myself do it – it’s only 10 minutes after all.  And, once out, I love it. Crisp, energising and peaceful. Just very very chilly.  I could probably do with some gloves! Maybe, if I keep on saving on the anadin -extra, I’ll treat myself to a pair! In the meantime, I’m off to enjoy my cheese and onion pie…

Pay Day!

Wednesday 30 January 2019


Praise the Lord for tomorrow is PAY DAY! A day when money goes in and, for a blissful 24 hours, nothing goes out,  and I can have one day when I pretend to have no money worries.  Because, and I can’t find a positive slant on this one, when you move from parenting as a couple to parenting alone you are screwed financially!

The excellent reportThe Cost of a Child in 2018 by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) presents data showing that the actual cost of raising a child is higher for lone parents than couples. They calculate that “The overall cost of a child (over 18 years, including rent and childcare) is £150,753 for a couple and £183,335 for a lone parent”. In this report the ‘cost of a child’ is calculated as the difference the arrival of the child has made to the family outgoings. With this definition it’s easier to see why some costs, such a Child Care, have a greater impact for a lone parent, who has less flexibilty and choice,than a couple. What is a surprise is that the financial imbalance continues throughout the child’s life. Or is it? Single mums I meet who have jobs in the care and health sectors often have night shifts and this means paying for overnight child care until their children are quite old. It’s a cost many couples don’t have. From a personal point of view, I know that my earning potential is more limited than when I was married, because working hours, location, ability to travel for work are all contstrained by childcare. Cuts in personal tax thresholds only impact one salary in my home in comparison to two for many of my couple friends. I am sure there are other reasons too,  because the figures look indisputable and the relentless disparity between the ability of lone parent families to cover their outgoings in comparison to families parented by a couple, is a tough read. One finding that hits home for me is this, 

“For families on median earnings, the contrast between lone parents and couple families is particularly pronounced. The former now fall 15%  short of an adequate income even with a reasonably paid job…. For a couple with two young children, on the other hand, median wages produce disposable income 10 % above the minimum.”

I have certainly found it a constant battle to stay afloat. Ex contributes, but it’s less than a quarter of the money that previously came into the home. Even with his contribution, divorce led to a 50% drop in my household income, which was a body blow. I work full time,  I think I am quite good with money but I still cannot stay out of the red most months and have precisely £0 in my ‘rainy day fund’. There is also discrimination at every turn. Council Tax, Child Benefit, lack of Married Person’s Tax Allowance, Benefits Sanctions and many other costs hit single parents disproportionately and that just isn’t fair. We deserve a level playing field, but you’d have to be innumerate and deluded to think a lone parent can look forward to the same financial security as a couple in the UK of 2019.

There is plenty more I could say but it’s not for now, because now is almost the ‘last working day of the month’ when for a full day my bank balance will look rosy and the financial future bright and I don’t want to waste a single minute of that day on angry rants…

When your realise you’ve overdone it!

Friday 25 January 2019 
Oh my goodness, a day that began at 6am finally finishes as I arrive home at 10:30 pm and I am spent! As I head to the fridge and find it stocked with wine but no milk, I also feel like pretty feckless specimen of parenthood! 

I pour myself a glass anyway and decide I deserve it. I am back from a rehearsal and it’s not exactly the first rehearsal of the week. No, I am a musician, strictly amateur, who has said yes to a few too many job offers in recent weeks and I now find myself juggling about four different sets of orchestral commitments. I have spent a glorious week hurtling around Lancashire, in the fog and snow, to exotic locations such as Chorley, Blackburn and Bolton to tootle my oboe notes and make music. I have loved nearly every minute of it (petrol light flashing on a dark blizzard-hit M65 was a bit of a stress point), but upon reflection…..I wonder it I have overdone it? It’s not just the lack of milk, nor the fact that only a cheese pie, produced my my youngest in school cookery class, saved us from food disaster this evening, it’s also that, as I fly in and out, I hear children, muttering ‘again?’ or ‘another rehearsal?’ with a definite accusing edge to their voices…As the spawn of musical parents, it was never really an option not to play an instrument and I began lessons at the age of 12. And now, I am grateful to my core, because, at times, music has been the only thing that has kept me sane and I have always fought hard to keep playing. When my marriage broke up I managed to get to a few rehearsals by giving up (amongst many other things) a cleaner and spending the money paying for the same lovely lady to babysit instead. And those rehearsals were an absolute lifeline!

These days playing music mostly makes me feel  incredibly happy. I love being part of the noise, I love feeling my soul stir, I love my mind being overtaken by melody and emotion … it’s just utterly fantastic! It’s also a link to the past which can be sadder. Dad was a musician and sometimes, as I hear a piece of music that I can picture him conducting or playing, I still feel myself wobble. In particular, I cannot reach the end of Beethoven’s Pastoral without big fat tears rolling down my face,  because whenever Mum went to hear him perform, Dad would always serenade her with one of its Horn solos as she entered the auditorium. I guess I am just a Real Emotional Girl and that makes music a perfect companion. 

But, whilst I may have music in my soul, whilst I may thrive on the excitement of a week eating on the go and caring little about the state of the house, I’m not flying solo through life. I am part of, in fact I am captain of, a team. And the balance, that trickiest of balances between personal freedom and parental responsibility, hasn’t worked for my super-squad this week. I can have music, just not quite this much!  I look at the calendar, life looks a little crazier than usual until Easter,  but I resolve, with only a slightly heavy heart, to say ‘Yes, I’ll play’ a little less after that…

The Miracle of Time

Saturday 19th January 


The children’s Dad is visiting this weekend, ‘up’ from ‘The South’. It’s a pretty long trek and so we tend to see him about once a month. After a frenetic week at work, it is blooming fantastic to wave them all off on Saturday morning and enjoy  some time to myself. I luxuriate in solitude and pleasing myself. I fit in a run, I finish an overdue report for work, I spruce the house up a bit, potter about  and then just sit in peace and quiet enjoying a very large cup of coffee and feeling more on top of things than I have for several days  – it’s utter bliss.

On Saturday evening we all head out for a meal at a local Italian I’ve been meaning to try try for ages. 


Out for a meal with your ex-husband!‘ I hear you cry, ‘How  nauseatingly mature of you!’ 

Fear not, it has taken us an awfully long time to reach this stage! And we haven’t got there my being mature, or having any clever conversations it’s simply this…time. It’s the oldest cliche in the book but, time is a great healer. It heals the wounds and takes away the hurt, until you are just 2 people again who know each other pretty well. My ex is an astonishingly well- read guy and a truly original thinker. It would be easy for anyone to while away a few hours in his company on this ticket alone. But for me above all of that, it’s just nice to spend some time with the one other person on the planet who finds our children as fascinating as I do. 

Anyway, back to the meal! We all love the restaurant, a typical buzzing and busy Italian. Ex and I catch up on work news and then both listen with amusement, at first, to my eldest who has chosen this moment to try and convince her Dad that he should buy her a car. But she puts together a strong and rather moving case which is very much about closing the travel gap between the children and their Dad and their ‘Down South family’ . I can tell that he’s considering it…which is a surprise!. It’s a lovely evening.

Whether or not the car idea ever materialises, only time will tell, but he is on our doorstep on Sunday at 9am as promised to take my eldest for her first ‘driving lesson’. It’s the traditional, jolting your parent’s car around Tesco car park experience, and she loves it! If someone gave me a ‘ magic hour of time ‘ I know I would use it to see my Dad … just for one more time. And I might well take us both back 30 years to my first faltering steps, as a learner driver, edging his Leyland Princess along the beach in Wales. It’s a special time, it’s been a good weekend….