An ode to mums 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there. 

To the ones who miss sleep for feeds and cuddles.

To those who pack lunches, fill in permission slips and do everything in their power to find or make costumes for World Book Day and seasonal concerts.

To those who have watched their babies turn to teenagers and make their way into the world. And to those who have stayed up until 3am until they hear the key in the front door as their child returns from a night out.

To those who kiss away tears and scrapes and bruises. To those who say no when it would be so much easier to say yes.

To those who pack swimming kits and organise schedules like a pro. To those who agree to read just one more bedtime story.

To those who keep their cool during the most dramatic tantrums. And to those who always have wet wipes wherever they go.

To those who’ve persisted in teaching their child to read and ride a bike and to master the potty.

To those who watch their teenagers fall in and out of love and are there to deal with the fall out.

To those who chauffeur their wards to ballet, piano and gymnastics.

To those who are now grandma as well as mum and look after their grandchildren as though they were their own.

To those who get their toddler to agree to wearing shoes.

To those who wade through washing to make sure the uniforms are clean for the next day and that socks are paired.

To those who have sewn labels into jumpers, coats and hats.

To those who are doing it alone being mum and dad rolled into one.

To those who have an encyclopaedic knowledge of their kids’ medical history and are quicker at spotting an illness 

And to those who are no longer here but will be forever remembered for everything they did and were.

I salute you all.


Book review – Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

How do you find a missing actress in 1960s London in which people are struggling with identity and their cultural heritage? That’s the question Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars unpicks and explores.

The plot revolves around the disappearance of popular actress Iolanthe Green and her dresser Anna Treadway’s mission to find her. During her search, Anna uncovers murky truths and tensions at play in 1960s London which force her and others to face uncomfortable truths about identity, race and women’s choices (or lack thereof).

This is Miranda Emmerson‘s debut novel and I found it an enjoyable read. The characters were relatable with flaws and secrets they have worked hard to forget and hide.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the novel was its delve into identity and the stories we can construct for ourselves and others. Anna, Iolanthe and Hayes are just some of the characters who aren’t what they seem, spending years creating new identities and names  for themselves and distancing themselves from their past and their heritage. 

Historically, the novel’s 1960s setting is an exciting one. It’s a world on the brink of a sexual revolution and moves towards racial equality, but still one where cultural barriers including institutional racism are ingrained. 

It’s a world in which unmarried women can appear to be sexually liberated, but have to deal with the consequences. These include loveless marriages, putting children up for adoption and life-threatening illegal abortions. It’s one in which Orla finds herself trapped by pregnancy into a loveless marriage to a man who is wed to his work.

It’s a world in which Omar and Ekin, who have emigrated to London, struggle to watch their teenager Samira emerging as a woman in a Westernised world.

Complex, beautifully written and with vivid characters, Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars is a great read. It sees characters dancing the difficult line between emerging revolutions in sexual freedom, growing gender and racial equality, while cultural barriers and ingrained attitudes – which lead to devestating consequences – were still at play.

Blogger note. I was sent a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Justin’s Party – a review 

If you have young children who like CBeebies, you’re likely to be familiar with Justin Fletcher. From Mr Tumble to starring in Justin’s House, he is a familiar and popular face in many households.

When I heard that he was bringing his show Justin’s Party to the Wales Millennium Centre, I decided it would be a good theatre show to try as a family. Both of our children enjoy Justin’s shows so although our five-year-old isn’t massively keen on the theatre, I took the plunge.

The atmosphere when we arrived was buzzing. The theatre was filled with excited children who couldn’t wait for the show to begin. Justin definitely has rock star status among the under 5s!

The show was a bundle of fun and didn’t disappoint. Bright costumes, great music and Justin’s trademark slapstick humour kept our children – and hoardes of others – enchanted. The show mixed familiar songs and a good level of audience participation to keep children entertained. 

I liked little touches such as encouraging the audience to take pictures, usually a definite no no in theatreland. 

There were lovely moments including a song performed using  sign language. I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but fans of the different characters he performs won’t be disappointed.

Including the interval, the show ran to roughly two hours. Tickets for the raised stalls where we sat were £19.50 for adults and £16.50 for children and our daughter had a £2 lap seat as she is two.

Overall, it was an excellent family show that kept both our five-year-old and toddler entertained. It made you feel part of Justin’s Party and was a night out the children won’t forget for a long time.

Blogger note. We paid for our tickets to Justin’s Party and the venue was unaware I was writing a review.

On International Women’s Day

Today – Wednesday 8 March – is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of women across the world but also to look at how far we have to go to achieve equality.

At the weekend, I was getting my five-year-old son and toddler daughter ready for their weekend activities. My son commented that boys couldn’t do ballet. I explained that boys could and he was amazed. 

This is just one small example of the ways in which gender stereotypes are ingrained at such an early age, even when we’re trying so hard to avoid them as parents. 

So that is one of a myriad of reasons that I am supporting International Women’s Day. 

I want to live in a world in which my daughter isn’t called pushy and bossy for being assertive and confident. A world where my son knows that boys and men can do ballet and wear pink if they want to. A world where we raise our sons to see women as equal in all ways and where we raise our daughters to know the same.

I want equal pay and equal rights and all of the benefits they would bring to men and women across the globe. I want girls in every country to have access to free education and to be free from forced marriage, violence and exploitation.

I want women to be free to make choices about how they live their lives. I want mothers to know that the right choices for them and their family are the best ones no matter what people say.  And I want women to have the confidence to apply for the jobs they have the skills to do and to apply to be on that board.

But we can’t do this alone. We need men and women, organisations and influencers to keep demanding more. 

Yesterday, I attended an excellent session at the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action’s (WCVA) conference about women and wellbeing and what’s been achieved in the last 50 years. There much to celebrate and to be proud of in terms of legislation, flexible working and the continued conversation about equality across the globe.

But there is still more to do. One point the panel discussed was how many women today don’t describe themselves as feminists today despite living lives that wouldn’t have been possible without feminism. We talked about reclaiming feminism and I was so proud to hear so many panellists declare: “I am a feminist.”

So today is a day to listen to women’s voices and experiences across the world  and to think about the ways in which we can support creating a more equal world for women and our daughters. 

That could be by teaching our children not to limit their horizons and to rule out careers because of their gender. 

It could be by encouraging the women around us to apply for that job or that training opportunity.
It could just be by declaring our support for feminism whether we are a man or a woman.

What are your thoughts on International Women’s Day? How are you showing your support?