La Boheme РA review 

Last night was a Saturday night with a difference as I went to see the opening night of Welsh National Opera’s La Boheme at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Although I enjoy an eclectic mix of music and theatre, I rarely go to see an opera. But as La Boheme is so loved across the world, I took the plunge and bought tickets. 

And it was wonderful. The production transported us to Bohemian Paris and the lives of Mimi and Rodolfo, neighbours who fall in love after meeting one cold winter’s night.

The cast and chorus did a sterling job of bringing Puccini’s masterpiece to life. Littered with humour and heartbreak, the English and Welsh subtitles meant novices like me could follow the plot and dialogue, which was performed in Italian.

One of my highlights was the technology used to bring Bohemian Paris to life. Thin screens were layered to animate flurries of snow alongside the snowflakes falling on the stage. The changing seasons were shown by dancing snowflakes turning into the flowers of spring.

All in all, La Boheme was a gorgeous production. Beautifully sung and acted, it was an accessible way to try out an evening at the opera. 

Have you seen #WNOBoheme? I’d love to hear yours thoughts. 


The dinnertime blues

Today I made a pasta bake for dinner. Tomato, cheese and child-friendly pasta bows with a side of garlic bread. Nothing fancy or inoffensive (or so I had hoped).

My five-year-old took one look at it and declared: “I don’t want you to make it ever again”.

And as much as I tried to stay positive and smile inside I was screaming: “Just eat your dinner, please!”.

The dinnertime battles are becoming a familiar scene in our home. Before Christmas we had fallen into a routine of eating the same set meals as, admittedly, I just couldn’t face the teatime showdowns.

But I started the year determined to mix things up and to try new meals. (Not that I’d consider a pasta bake a culinary adventure).

I’ve dug out the slow cooker and made more from scratch only to be greeted with disdain by the children who’d rather eat waffles and fish fingers. I have had many plates pushed away with a sneer only to be asked for a dessert two minutes later.

It’s exhausting but I want to stick to my plan. I don’t want us to be making different meals for everyone. I want us to sit together around our dining room table and share a meal and our stories from the day. And I want our children to grow up enjoying a variety of foods. 

I’ll just need patience and determination to get there.
Now, who’s helping me with the dishes?

What are your tips for family friendly dinners? What are your fail safe recipes? I’d love to know.

To the driver of the L reg silver car

I don’t know who you are but you were clearly in a rush to get where you were going.

I was driving in the middle lane of the M4. It was almost 5pm I’d just picked up my two-year-old daughter from nursery and we were on our way to Porthcawl for a birthday meal with my mum. My daughter was singing along to her favourite Frozen CD.

You joined at Junction 36 and wanted to whizz straight out into the overtaking lanes. But I was in your way in my blue Fiesta. You tried to move out anyway driving perilously close to my car as you tried to bully me out of your way. My heart was in my mouth and, for a few seconds, I thought you were going to hit us. It was busy so I had nowhere to move to with cars on either side.

Your persistence meant I had to slam on my breaks as you pushed your way out to the sound of my blasting horn. You then shifted out into the fast lane not long after at 90 miles per hour.

I was in tears and had to pull over when we got off the motorway not long after. It played over in my mind again and again last night.

If you happen to see this I beg you to think twice if you consider driving like that again. Nowhere is that important to get to.

P.S. I have a dash cam so I will be checking the footage. I’ve also contacted the police.

Parenting as an introvert

Since I was small, I’ve savoured time on my own. Some of my clearest and happiest memories are of the hours I spent devouring books (or writing my own versions using coloured paper, pencils and glitter glue) or playing alone in my room.

That’s not to say I didn’t love being around people and playing with my friends. I most definitely did. But after playing outside for hours or play dates, I’d need a bit of quiet time to recharge.

Similarly, before having the children, as an adult I enjoyed time alone. I’d often take a day off work and spend it pottering in the garden and relaxing in the house alone. Again, it’s not that I didn’t want to spend time with my husband, friends or loved ones – I just needed a bit of alone time.

Suffice to say, alone time (rightly) becomes scarce when you’re a parent of a young child or children. When I had my son five years ago, I didn’t fully understand that this need for quiet and space was part of how I was wired. 

When I was on maternity leave, I filled our days with play dates and playgroups and spent time with my lovely new network of mum friends. My ideal scenario was going out for a few hours and a well-timed nap afterwards so I could recharge, drink a warm cuppa and catch up around the house. Jackpot!

But on the days on which that nap didn’t happen (which were the majority, let’s be honest), boy was I exhausted. Now some of that was down to my son waking at least five times a night for 17 months and still getting up anywhere between 4am and 5.30am. But the other thing that played a part was not having that bit of quiet time to rebuild my energy.

When my son was one and I was back in work at a new job, we were lucky enough to have a talented colleague who was trained in analysing Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) preferences. Her project saw her working with every team member to agree their MBTI profile and then to map each individual and team after we all agreed to sharing our preferences with each other.

I struggled with it at the time but going through this process has been incredibly helpful to me in and outside of work. Before then, I’d never given deep thought to what my preferences were. Surely everyone got tired after spending lots of time with people? And everyone prefers an email over a phone call, right? No.

It gave me a better understanding other people’s preferences and how to work with and communicate with each other. But it’s also given me a much better understanding of what I need.

Now I have got better at telling my husband when I need a bit of space after a full on day with our lovely, boisterous and chatty children. It’s not that I’m being rude, I just need a bit of time – sometimes only 10 minutes – to recharge. It can’t always happen of course, but I do my best to get the time, quiet and space I need to be the best mum, wife, colleague, friend, daughter and sister I can be.

Are you a fellow introvert parent? How do you get the alone time you need? 

On letters

Ever since I was a child, I have loved getting letters. Growing up, I had pen pals as far away as Canada and America and closer to home in Milton Keynes and Kent. I spent many weekends picking pastel paper and envelopes before writing about my world and asking questions about theirs.

I still remember the thrill of getting a letter addressed to me – just me – in the post. Running to my bedroom to rip the envelope open and read my distant friends’ words about their lives, their likes and dislikes.

That love of letters, postcards and all things stationary has never left me. As an adult, quite often we only get letters such as bills and information from the organisations who need or want to get in touch. So, to counter that, I try to share a little bit of thoughtfulness through the post. 

I am a little bit addicted to notes, letters, postcards and cards and love nothing more than sending something to my friends and family to make them smile or to let them know I’m thinking of them. I also love a thank you note to acknowledge someone’s kindness to either me or the children.

Yoohoo Mail card

Some of my favourite places to shop, excluding the usual high street haunts, are online stationary shops. Yoohoo Mail and The Green Gables both offer gorgeous selections of goodies as well as monthly stationary subscriptions (squeal!). For children, I love Hi Kids Stationery, which offers bespoke invitations, thank you notes and other glorious stationary.

Hi Kids card

So, next time you want to say thank you, sorry or hello, why not do it by post? You might just make their day.

Are there any fellow stationa

ry lovers out there? I’d love to know.

Fat to fab – achieving a healthier weight in 2017

So yesterday I did something I’d been avoiding for months – I stepped on the scales. And, yes, it was as bad as I feared.

The 8lbs I’d lost in the first few months of 2016 were back on plus more. My BMI is unhealthy and  the highest it has ever been (I can’t bear to admit it on here). 

I’m sad because last year I joined a fabulous gym and started exercising consistently. I’m the fittest I’ve been in years. But clearly I can’t get away with stuffing myself and hoping exercise will undo the damage.

As a result, I am now joining the cliched legion of people determined to lose weight this year.

I don’t want to join a slimming group. I’ve done them twice before (when I was 21 and 23) and found them great in the short term but unsustainable. Also the eating plans left me feeling so hungry I’d feel faint. Not cool.

So instead I’m going it alone and giving the eat less and move more movement a whirl. It worked well for me last year until I fell off the wagon and enjoyed eating rubbish too much to get back on it.

I am also going to use these tactics to try to get me (and keep me) on track.

1. Weighing every week I am going to weigh myself at the same time and on the same day every week. No excuses. Avoiding the scales is just avoiding the issue.

2. Measuring I am going to get the measuring tape out to track my progress every week as measuring can show more than the scales.

3. Fitness challenge I have taken the plunge and signed up for my first 10K since having the children. I am a terribly slow runner but I hope this will give me the focus to keep on track.

4. Journal I have started a journal to record my progress along the way. I love writing so I am hoping this will spur me along as well as being a record of how things are going.

5. Reading I have never bought books on healthy eating before but I have ordered a book about tackling comfort eating. I hope it will give me some inspiration.

6. Facebook groups I am in an eat less, move more Facebook group as well as a group for local mums who want to improve their health. I plan to turn to them for tips and support along the way. Tonight they pointed me in the direction of, which helps you to visualise what your target weight looks like. Here’s mine.7. One treat a week at work Our office is renowned for its kitchen goodies. It is always resplendent with cake, biscuits and chocolate. In fact, it’s a running joke that you’ll gain a stone by working there. So instead of grazing on treats every day of the working week, I am going to limit myself to one (small) treat a week. That way I won’t feel as though I’m depriving myself.

8. And finally…blogging I hope you, dear readers, will help me to achieve my goals. I’ll be posting regular updates about how I’m doing, which I hope will be an incentive to work towards being a healthier weight.

So, wish me luck. I hope to finish 2017 at a healthier weight. Here goes.

Have you adopted a healthier lifestyle recently? What approaches worked for you? I’d love to know.

Our top Twixmas walks

The weather was kind to us in South Wales in the last few days of 2016. This was good news as we were able to get out for fresh air and outdoor walks.

Both of our children love the outdoors from parks to beaches to the garden. And I’m a big fan of going for walks to get moving. So we enjoyed wrapping up and getting out and about between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Here are the top walks and places to visit we enjoyed in Twixmas 2016.

Swansea Bay Beach

We spent Boxing Day morning on Swansea Bay beach. It’s a long beach with views over to the Mumbles and the children loved tearing up and down it. They also made sand angels much to my amusement. Soggy trousers all round. 

Roath Park

Roath Park has been a favourite of mine since I was a student at Cardiff University. It’s now one of our children’s most loved parks. They love the lake and the playground and it has flat sections that make it a great destination for scooter and bike rides. It was bustling with families when we visited on 27 December.


Ogmore-by-Sea in the Vale of Glamorgan is one of our most loved destination for a family walk. Its rugged landscape, views of Porthcawl and beaches make it a popular destination for walkers and surfers alike. We went there for a stroll on 28 December and the children loved exploring the beach and watching the groups of surfers catching waves. 

Where are your favourite places to walk or visit as a family?