Tuesday, 7 May 2019

How I Really Spend A Weekday (and how I suspect you do too)

As I grow older the number of secret, dirty little habits I clock up seem to grow greater. And I’m not talking about secret, dirty little habits in a sexy way. No, I’m talking about secret, dirty little habits like putting a teaspoon of Bisto in my gravy when no one is looking and I’m cooking the Sunday roast sort of way. In a world where everyone I follow on Instagram is posting glamorous looking #nomakeupselfies, half the Mums at Ava's school gates are showing up in their gym gear boasting washboard stomachs and clutching homemade hemp smoothies and I spend my days constantly worrying that I am literally one chip in my nail polish off a nervous breakdown - I keep finding myself looking around wondering if everyone else is struggling to keep it together as much as I am. Or if it's just that some people are simply better at hiding it than others?

Does the fact that I don’t eat Acai Bowls for breakfast, meditate over crystals for their healing power or make my own hummus make me any less of a person?

Or does it just make me more honest?

I recently read a feature in one of those over-priced, glossy magazines I adore (that I know objectify women just as much as the mens ones do and enforce a damaging portrait of ‘beauty’ that Ava’s generation will have to pay for) - on what a popular writer, broadcaster and television presenter did in a week. I lap that stuff up let me tell you. I take no greater pleasure in life than salaciously soaking up how celebrities spend their Sundays, what’s really in their wardrobes and what’s generally kicking about their fridges. And this particular celeb documented her days for an entire week. And there were a lot of burpees. And smoothies. And oh so much self-care. 

It kinda made me want to take to my bed for a week in my massive over-sized Frankie Says Relax t-shirt with a bottle of tequila. It kinda made me want to ask myself a lot of hard questions. Was I happy? Did I really need to plank before bedtime to fulfil a full & meaningful existence?  So I decided to do my own exceedingly honest, completely derisive and massively cynical one day version. 

And let you decide.

A Monday (about five weeks ago)

Alarm goes off at 7am and I snooze until 7.20, despite reading an article about how hitting snooze was giving us all cancer (or something to that effect) and promising myself the day before that I was going to start getting up every morning exactly when it goes off and using the extra time to meditate. Switch the radio over from Radio 2 to either BBC Scotland or Radio 4 (a Monday morning ritual) and try to pay attention to what's happening in the world instead of thinking about how I am going to get the felt tip pen out of the dining table. After showering, I do my make up then throw on a slightly old but extremely comfy sweater and black trousers with flat pumps because I have no appointments that day and when I have no appointments I tend to go to the office looking like a homeless person. Leave for work at 7.50am, pick up milk en route & listen to Law of Attraction podcasts on the drive there.  Get to work and chastise the fact that despite some very committed straightening, my hair has taken on a really weird flyaway texture and isn't sitting properly. Also chastise myself for my completely inappropriate footwear as I see the rain start to cascade down the windows (I’m never in appropriate footwear).  Keep going to message back the guy I started chatting to on Bumble last night but I'm so busy I get half way through the message and then have to put my phone down. Eventually get back to him at about 11.22 with some inane mindless nonsense because until I've met someone and know I could actually see myself exchanging bodily fluids with them, my heart is never really in it. Nip out of the office briefly to drive my boss to the car garage to pick up his car while reassuring him I absolutely know the way back to the office. Get lost on the way back to the office. Haven't brought my handbag so don't have my phone in order to plug in the sat nav. Eventually make it back to the office about 30 minutes later than I should with wet feet from walking from the car to the main door in my inappropriate footwear. Skip my lunch break because I am still suffering the after affects of eating a disgusting amount of Greek then Chinese food and imbibing too much Malbec over the weekend. Spend the day blasting out my own music in the office and not consulting anyone else on what they may or may not want to hear. I have a new assistant who is young and gorgeous and keeps suggesting all these cool bands for me to listen to. Appreciate she's here to keep me relevant. Continue to try and convince myself that because I am using one of those silly water bottles now that you stick fruit into the middle of, drinking two litres of H2O per day is actually ridiculously easy. It's not. It's an absolute pain in the arse having to pee every single hour. Especially when the girls toilets at work are colder that Volstok Station. Work late and alone in the office until around 7pm as I am picking my sister and her boyfriend up from the airport post them holidaying in LA. Take an immense amount of pleasure in her messaging me from Heathrow to let me know that she threw up all over her brand new white Converse on the plane. Swear a lot and then use the time to fix my make up at my desk when my Mac freezes completely. Swear even more when I end up having to switch the thing off at source and lose a 600 word blog post I was writing for a client. Promise myself that I will start utilising Google Documents more. Take a beta blocker because I drank way more caffeine than my usual daily quota and can feel my anxiety start to kick in as a consequence. Leave work and head to the airport to pick my sister up whereupon I lie about how amazing the weather has been in Glasgow. Finally get home about 8.30pm and pretend  not so see the gym gear I  strategically laid out on my bed that morning in order to guilt trip my post work self into going for a run. Get straight into my pyjamas. Also ignore the fresh and nutritious ingredients I bought at the weekend in order to make an amazing vegan health dish for #MeatfreeMonday and frantically try and defrost some bolognese from the back of the freezer on the radiator whilst eying up the leftover Malbec. Eat dinner alone in front of something inane on telly whilst inwardly chastising myself (are you noticing a theme here) for the fact that I should really be on a date as Mondays are one of my limited Ava free evenings. Drink a chamomile tea while painting my nails as part of a recent cost saving exercise which includes no longer paying for a monthly gel manicure or for someone else to clean the inside of my car. Put a wash on, even though I know I will go to bed later and forget to hang it up. Give in and pour myself the last dregs of the Malbec and stick on an episode of Outlander. Head to the bathroom at around 10pm and attempt to brush my teeth with the new (apparently life changing) whitening charcoal powder my sister gave me that everyone is raving about. Proceed to get black charcoal powder over everything in the bathroom. Including me. Throw offending charcoal powder in the bin and concede to go back to the Colgate. Go to bed looking like I work down the mines. Read approximately three pages of the Ernest Hemingway I ordered from Amazon before giving up and reaching for this weeks copy of Closer magazine (which I hide underneath aforementioned overpriced but much more glamorous glossies). Get annoyed upon noticing that my nails are chipped already and make a mental note to book a nail appointment in the morning. Switch the light out at 11pm then remember I have a wet load of washing still to hang up just at the moment I'm drifting off to sleep. Finally fall asleep making unsubstantiated promises to myself that I will get up early and meditate in the morning.

And there was you lot thinking I ran 10k every morning, only reads books by the Dalai Lama and existed on decaf oat milk lattes. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2019


Despite never classing myself as a good sleeper, until around three years ago I would not have classed myself as an insomniac either. Even though I would often struggle to doze off at night, usually after a bit of tossing and turning, my mind and body would always eventually relent and I would get at least 4 or 5 hours kip a night. But about three years ago I started suffering from serious full blown insomnia. Unless you've suffered from insomnia (real insomnia), you can never really know what it's like. But if you do suffer from insomnia, you will understand why some countries still use sleep deprivation as a method of torture. I remember once pulling two all nighters in a row. By the time the second morning rolled around I could barely function. Lack of sleep affects everything around you and inside you. Your cognition becomes muddled, your spatial awareness goes to pot, your emotional wellbeing takes a serious nosedive and your mental state dips to unimaginably low levels.

Over the past six months I have worked really hard to try and solve my insomnia issues and to date it seems to be working. So I wanted to share how I got there. In the vain hope it might help any other insomnia sufferers out there who read this blog. First off I have turned to sleeping pills in the past but I obviously don't recommend them as a long-term solution. And neither will your doctor. While I am an avid supporter of any sort of pharmaceutical if it's going to have a positive impact on a persons general mental health and wellbeing, sleeping pills are pretty addictive and so cannot be used as a long term solution. But they are a lifesaver when things get a bit gritty. Even now I always keep a weeks worth in my medicine cabinet 'just in case'. One weeks worth of Zoplicone lasts me around 3-4 months (hence the reason my doctor is ok to keep giving me them), and truthfully I sleep better knowing they are there (the irony is not lost on me). Back in October last year I decided I needed to make some big changes to my life. Which involved asking myself a lot of hard questions and going on what I can only really describe as a bit of a truth seeking journey. I needed to get happy. And there were a few big changes I needed to make in order to do that. The first being to tackle my sleep. It made sense to start by getting to the root of the issue. To work out exactly why I wasn't sleeping in the first place.

Here's what I learned. I live for distractions. If I'm unhappy with my life, the only time I really know about it is when I'm in bed. Those first few seconds when I wake up and open my eyes and feel that familiar sense of emptiness and then those final moments of my day where I lay in bed at night trying to get some z's. The rest of the time I fill my days with any sort of distraction necessary that will make sure I don't think about whatever it is I'm pretending isn't breaking me. The reason I couldn't sleep was because I refused to allow myself to deal with the stuff that I needed to deal with. As a reaction, my mind waited until I was lying in bed at night, forcefully exposing my brain to these horrible truths and demanding I pay them some attention. By spending some serious time on myself over the past six months, by reading as much as I could on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy & every Rumi and Dalai Lama quote I could get my hands on, something shifted. I started to feel a little better. My perspective slowly changed. I started to realise what mattered. And what didn't. And slowly my sleeping patterns improved.

But it took more than just that. Lots of other things ended up helping my insomnia including taking magnesium before bed (some people think magnesiums sleep inducing properties are a bit of a fallacy but I'm happy to kid myself on even if they are) or taking a beta blocker before bed to calm any anxiety if something is playing on my mind. Although I often allow myself a glass of wine on weeknights, if I do drink any more than just the one I find the implications on my sleep that night to make it not really worth it. Proven very recently when I spent the Sunday/Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend imbibing Aperol Spritz in various venues in the south side and the the west end, only to find the effect it had on my sleep was ridiculously rubbish and I spent two evenings in a row tossing and turning. If you are struggling with sleep then I cannot recommend cutting down on alcohol enough. It genuinely makes all the difference.

A best friend who spends a lot of her working life in the states means I get a pretty much free flowing supply of melatonin tablets as a sleep aid. You can't get them over the counter here but over in the land of opportunity you can buy them in the supermarket and although I can't use them for any more than a few nights at a time before they stop working, they are another perfect little lifesaver when that clock ticks towards 2am and I start to panic about all the things I have to do tomorrow.

What else? The most significant insomnia fixer I have come across over the past six months and the one I truly believe has made the biggest impact on my sleep patterns is the fact I have started journalling. I keep my favourite notebook and a pen on my bedside table and almost every evening I jot down a series of affirmations and wishes and just general bullshit that you don't need to hear about. But it's all positive happy bullshit. And the difference it has made to my sleep is incredible. Not only do I feel myself getting sleepy just doing it, but on the nights I journal I find myself nodding off almost immediately after I switch the light off. And it always takes me longer to fall asleep on the nights I skip it.

So to recap, here's what I have learned over the last six months. That the brain is an incredibly complicated, mind blowingly complex, head fucking, incomprehensible organ that in my case was the reason I wasn't sleeping. I've learned that any sort of positive reinforcement done daily (whether it's affirmations, reading books about Buddhism or getting yourself seriously into things like the Law of Attraction), will increase your quality of life tenfold. I've learned that reaching for a pill every now and again is not the end of the world but don't come to depend on them because happiness is an inside job. So start there. 

Most importantly, I'm learning that the nicer I am to myself the better I sleep. And if that's not a good reason to start treating myself with a little bit of extra kindness - then I don't know what is.

“When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep, and you're never really awake. With insomnia, nothing's real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, 8 April 2019


You know those bloggers who just disappear without a trace? The ones who just go quiet with no real warning? Want to know what is even more annoying than those bloggers? 

The ones who suddenly make a reappearance because they got offered a freebie, a PR sample or a sponsored anchor link…



But the truth is I have been thinking about blogging again for a while. I kinda left ya’ll high and dry back before Christmas to be honest. Talking about how great life was then all of a sudden NOTHING. Silence. Nada. No follow up. And we always need a sequel don’t we? Unless you are Donnie Darko or True Detective Season One - you guys really didn't need a follow up. But yeah I kinda disappeared for a bit. Again. No annual recaps on the year gone by at New Year, no pathetic promises of resolutions that we all knew I wouldn't keep. No 600 word piece on the perils of dating. I'm not dating. Completely out of choice. But more on that later…  So yeah I went quiet basically because I have been doing lots of work on myself lately. In that really wanky, ‘self-care’, yawn, eye roll, it’s getting a bit boring and blasé now kind of way that every nutritional advisor, life coach, mindfulness guru and every other health focussed tosser continues to extol the virtue of and ram down our throats at every available opportunity. But it’s all working splendidly if I am honest. Again, more on that later…

But what has happened over the past three months is that I have collated quite a few ideas for some blogposts. Some ideas jotted down in that dog eared little notebook I carry around everywhere with me (that also contains a note of all the words I hear in a week that I don’t understand so I can google them and then use them to impress people I don't like in conversations later) and others written into the notes section of my iPhone as I fly between work appointments & Brownies drop offs. Amongst these blog post ideas includes how I finally seem to have beaten the chronic insomnia that has haunted me for the past three years (without pharmaceuticals, who knew), my thoughts on why it’s the cleverer people in life who always seem to suffer the worst with mental health issues (wee bit deep and angsty but I promise not to keep you too long) and finally some of the many ways I have been looking after myself a little bit better.

 Spoiler: it doesn’t involve bubble baths and the headspace app. 


Anyway back to the blog post in question. Which is this one. What finally jolted me back into the bloggosphere (sorry I absolutely hate that word too), was the recent offer of a family pass to Blair Drummond Safari Park. As a Mum who likes to get out and about at the weekends (with a daughter who would much rather spend hers in Silverburn flexing her mothers credit card), I am always looking for new things to do with Ava that don’t involve a man made village of corporate capitalism. And as there are only so many castles one can visit without said daughter faking her own disappearance, this grabbed me as the perfect day out. It also happened to coincide with when I had my Mum over staying with us and when Ava was having a friend over to play anyway. 

So one very rainy Saturday (we never thought the weather thing through), the four of us headed off to Blair Drummond for the day.The safari park are currently running something called their Big Spring Fling for the Easter Holidays which includes loads of fun added extras and things to do including a 3D movie showing, a special Easter hunt (with a treat at the end), a magician and puppeteer and loads more. And thank goodness they were because I’m not going to lie guys - we might have picked the rainiest day of the calendar year to take our little road trip…

As we had been invited to also try lunch in the restaurant, we decided upon arrival to eat first in the vain hope that the rain might go off. It didn't. However the food, I can confirm, was great. Ava and her sidekick tucked into a culinary feast of chicken nuggets and chips (one day I will blackmail that kid into eating a vegetable), followed by giant chocolate cookies while my Mum enjoyed a pretty tasty looking Steak Pie with chips. Being of the slightly more health conscious variety (only compared to my daughter), I was looking for something a little lighter and thankfully they did not disappoint. I spotted a roasted veg & hoummous salad served with oatcakes which was genuinely delicious and easily staved off any hunger pangs of mine until dinner. It also managed to keep me away from the homemade cakes which I have to admit looked quite frankly amazing.

After lunch we made our way out to the amusement rides conveniently located near the entrance. We had originally been planning on hitting up the new Mini Landrover Rides (which sounded loads of fun) but unfortunately they hadn’t arrived yet (due at the end of this month though so make sure not to miss them on your visit). So Ava and her pal settled for a go on the dodgems and the teacups. The adrenaline junkies fully satiated in their hedonistic thirst for adventure, we adults grabbed a couple of cappuccinos from the coffee stand and then we all headed off to take a wander through the Pets Farm. Where we managed to sneak a peek at the likes of pigs, ducks and what is genuinely the biggest turkey I have ever set my eyes on. Utterly terrifying. I’m not kidding. Even more so than the tiger we managed to catch a tiny glimpse of from the viewing platform. Same goes for the giraffes - we only got a glimpse of these guys also thanks to the rubbish weather. My advice is to definitely watch the weather reports wisely before you book a day trip here - quite a lot of the animals were basically hiding.

And quite rightly so in my opinion. If you want to see a dangerous animal then just stick me outside in the pouring rain for twenty minutes. 

With the rain now starting to drip down the backs of our necks, we made a quick pitstop to see the meerkats and penguins (which the girls absolutely loved) before admitting defeat and retiring back to the cafe so we could watch (through the window) two absolute nutters spend a good thirty minutes running around the massive adventure play park in the pouring rain. It appears this outdoor adventure play area, complete with massive pirate ship, is super fun regardless of the weather. So there you go. After running off some steam, and literally omitting some, we then made our way to the elephant and rhino enclosures, where thanks to being indoors (they do also have the option of an outdoor enclosure but appeared to hate the rain just as much as I do), we were able to get up close (but not too close) and personal with both animals.. We even managed to catch one of the Meet the Keeper talks which the kids and adults all found pretty interesting. 

Next up we headed to watch a fantastic sea lion display it’s talents while being rewarded with loads of fish in an indoor arena before heading to the comfort of the marquee where the kids were able to colour in while enjoying a brilliant magic and puppet show. By this point my wet feet were starting to feel a little numb and knowing fine well how long my kid would want to spend perusing the gift shop before we made our final exit, we decided to call it a day and head to the main attraction - the safari park. But we did miss a whole heap of brilliant stuff that I wish my body temperature had been more durable for - including a boat trip to Chimp Island (we’ve done this before and it’s great fun), a birds of prey centre, a massive Flying Fox, Lemur Land (also done before and so much fun) and the pedal boats. There really is so much to do in one day in this incredible place, even when the sun isn’t shining, so if you do end up finding yourself here in the rain then don’t despair too much, just get yourselves to all the indoor activities.

After suitable wares were purchased in the gift shop (matching name necklaces and notebooks - god I miss being seven), we headed back to the car to heat up, thaw out and hit the heady heights of the drive through safari park. Now I’m not going to lie, this is not my usual type of drive through - but I can confirm it was heaps more fun than a Cheeseburger Happy Meal with 6 chicken nuggets (I'm a creature of habit) or a venti skinny latte. Driving slowly through the park we managed to spot loads of fantastic animals including monkeys, lions (watching them play like regular house cats will never not trip me out), zebra and bison. I think the constant squeals and shrieks emanating from the backseat pretty much said it all...

Even in the pouring rain the girls had a fantastic time. And despite being a little soggy I really enjoyed myself too. With the sun shining this place would be the perfect family day out. And even when it isn’t, there’s still enough going on inside to make it a worthwhile venture.

You can find more information on Blair Drummond Safari Park on their website or follow them on their Facebook page. If you have time, their Big Spring Fling Event will also be running until April 14th.

Just take your waterproofs.

We were invited as a guest of Blair Drummond Safari Park. You can read more about my disclosure policy here. 

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Life: An Update

Given how completely rubbish I am at blogging these days, I figured I would try and take some time out to write one last update before I optimistically career into 2019, full of fake promises to work out 5 times a week, complete dry January & to stop using the iPad as a parenting tool.

I took a little social media break just after my birthday back in October and I'm surprised at how little I missed Instagram and Twitter. I didn't look at either of these platforms once in just over three weeks (a long time for me) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm still not using social media to the same extent I was. Putting my phone down more has been remarkably liberating in lots of ways. It started to occur to me how much we were all missing by looking at things through our phones. By unbinding myself from the shackles of social media (albeit for a short while) I realised how much my focus had been taken off living in the moment. I don't want to be the person videoing their favourite song at a concert instead of dancing to it, I don't want to visit a waterfall just to get a photo of it and I don't want to let a nice meal go cold because I'm too busy taking pictures of it. 

2018 has been a bit of a learning curve for me. I've accepted and am still accepting things about myself that I wasn't willing to face up to before. I'm realising that it's only now (after quite a long time) that I'm truly ready for another serious relationship. Truly ready to think about settling down. I have learned so many lessons from the things I have been through over the past five years. And it's realising this that is making me genuinely excited for 2019. A shitload of self-awareness is slowly getting me to a place I possibly haven't been before. I'm recognising parts of myself that I possibly couldn't see before. I've never struggled to meet men when I want to date and I decide to get online, but meeting the right person has been a huge struggle and I now understand that in some ways, a great deal of that was because of me. I'm excited to go into the new year with a new head on my shoulders and a bit more faith. And for the first time in a long time, I feel really ready for something good. 

We're getting hugely excited for Christmas in our little household and we're spending our weekends visiting Santa, walking around Christmas markets and basically just getting into the festive spirit at every opportunity available. The tree is up, our guests are being offered mulled wine instead of Pinot and the only treats you can find in our cupboards right now are Christmas tree shaped or of the mince pie or Stollen variety. We've got the Christmas movies on repeat, decorations adorning the whole flat and I've even decorated the headboard of my bed with twinkling little fairy lights that make me feel super Christmassy when I'm snuggled up in bed watching films like Love Actually & The Holiday.  I love all the build up and the excitement at this time of year and having played chef/host/boss of the day for the past five years running, I am looking forward to going to my sisters and letting someone else take care of the hard work this year! Although the control freak in me is a little bit worried about letting go of my hostess with the mostess title, even if it is just for one year!

The little writing project I had been working on took a bit of a back seat recently but I am back to concentrating on my passion project again with full gusto and plan to dedicate much more time to it over the coming weeks. I am still knocking out new recipes like Nigella and cooking is still and forever will be one of my favourite forms of therapy. The girl who was running around five times a week over the summer has turned into a lazy cow now that the cold and dark mornings have hit and like everyone else in the country I have big plans to get my ass moving more come the New Year. But I'm really lacking the motivation right now for some reason. Let's just blame the weather.

As with every year, the hill walking, the road trips and the escapes up north have taken a backseat thanks to a lack of annual leave and the fact all my funds are currently going on Christmas presents, but I'm looking forward to my annual jaunt down to London after the New Year and I can't wait for all the new places I will explore in Scotland next year. Ticking another Scottish island off the list is most definitely on the agenda, as is a hike up Ben Nevis and a 3 or 4 night road trip up the east coast! 

I've been doing a fair bit of soul searching these past few weeks and to be honest the only thing that I can come up with is that life is great. I'm happy in my job, I love our home because it's ours and we live in a great area surrounded by amazing friends. We have a silly busy social life but that's just the way we like it and Ava is flourishing both in school and at home. She really is the happiest wee girl and I truly hope that a part of that is testament to me.

I don't think any of us look around ourselves often enough to take stock of how lucky we really are. I know myself that I'm all too guilty of focusing much more on the bad while completely disregarding the good. So I have been doing the opposite recently. Taking lessons where they need to be taken, focusing on fixing the parts of me that could use a little work and reminding myself almost daily how lucky I am to live a life this full. 

And know what I've realised? That life isn't just about being grateful for what you've got. 

It's about being excited for what you might just get. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2018


"I can't believe I'm still doing this at my age".

 Was what I defeatedly exclaimed as I threw myself down on the sofa to wait on my taxi before a date a couple of weeks back, putting a high heel on with one hand whilst juggling a gin & tonic with the other. The response I got was levelled and diplomatic. The kind of response one could only expect from a mother.

"There are a lot of unhappily married women out there Dawn who would currently kill to be in your shoes".

I knew she was right. But as my 35th birthday rushed towards me in the manner of a speeding train, I was seriously beginning to wonder if I could be bothered with it at all anymore. Having entered into my first serious relationship at 19 years old, I recently worked out that I have spent 10 of the last 16 years in relationships. And 6 single. I've never been bad at being single. In fact I've always been pretty good at it. Which I fear may be part of my problem. But what I have found and am finding with more and more clarity as each day passes is how bloody exhausting dating in your thirties can actually be. And I don't go on a lot of dates. In fact this year I have been on only a handful. 


Because I don't like dates. 

And boy does it feel good to finally admit it.  

That's not to be confused with time spent with boyfriends. There's nothing better to me than Sunday afternoons spent walking through parks, pool playing in pubs and Sunday roast eating in front of a movie. I get positively ecstatic at the thought of a Saturday night in some posh restaurant in town, getting absolutely lashed with someone I love while telling them all the things I intend to do to them when we get back home. But new guys? The beginning bit? That very first date? I've just never really been able to get on board with it. 

Before I've even met them I've convinced myself the whole process will be demotivating and a waste of my time. Twenty four hours before I go, I start to piece together an escape plan. I get knots in my stomach like you wouldn't believe, I catastrophise they will end up being a serial killer (or worse, arrogant), and I start to long for what I would really rather be doing that evening anyway, which is watch The Handmaid's Tale on the sofa with some takeaway noodles. 

So much so that I often cancel. And if I don't cancel then I give them the opportunity to. Casually testing the water to make sure they still want to go. Breezily throwing it in there that I'm happy to reschedule to another date should they see fit. Secretly hoping they will take the bait so that I can go home and get into my trackies. But sometimes I go. And sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it does not. And I guess that's the risk you take with dating at any age. It's just that in your thirties the stakes always seem so much higher. 

I often think it would be bloody lovely to settle down again. Even if a marginal part of that admission is because I'm getting sick of taking the bins out. But dating in your thirties seems like such an exhaustive strategy, that the prospect of it often feels a little too daunting. The main thing I've noticed with dating past the big three-o is baggage. And there will inevitably be a lot of it. While I may not carry around enough to sustain me for a three week holiday somewhere with a colder climate, I am definitely carrying around enough to see me on a short haul domestic flight somewhere. Hand baggage, I like to call it. But once you get to a certain age, it's almost impossible to find someone who isn't. 

The point is that dating in your thirties is a completely different ball game to dating in your twenties. And the only thing you can really take from it is an education.  So what have I learned so far from dating at this ripe old age? Loads thankfully. Have I put any of these lessons into action and learned from them? Of course not. But in the words of my ever optimistic mother...

'There's still plenty of time darling'.

I've learned that even if I really wanted to I could never just settle because for a very brief period of time I tried it and truthfully I would rather just be alone. I've learned through a couple of dates with some very rich men that I would never marry for money (although the guy who offered me a large sum of cash when I broke up with him just to keep me remains a highlight and if you're reading this then I still have your number - just in case). I've learned that everyone in their thirties is carrying around some kind of fear and some level of issues sprung from lovers who spurned them, but that when you meet the right person you will be able to work on those fears together for the sake of something everlasting. So try not to worry.

I've learned that age doesn't really matter and that despite always dating men who were at least ten years older than me, I am a lot more adept at dating men my own age than I originally thought. I've learned (rather recently) to let go of the past or it will inevitably end up dictating your future. I've learned that men who are older and still dating often come with baggage of their own. Usually in the guise of some offspring, two mortgage payments or a nagging ex-wife. But try and just go with the flow. I've learned that it's ok to know what you want. And not to waste time on anyone who doesn't want the same things as you. 

Don't become disillusioned or beat yourself up too much over past mistakes. Understand your worth and that if you're not good enough for one guy you like, you'll probably be more than right for the next one you fall for. Let them pay for the first couple of dinners but always go round for round on the drinks. Don't over-analyse the beginning bit, even if you're scared. And become more tolerant. Even if every single bone in your body is screaming at you to do the opposite. 

Don't settle. 

Trust your gut. 

Don't seek perfection.

Don't cancel on them before you've even met.

And learn to read a map. 

Just in case Prince Charming never actually does show up.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


I used to be one of those people who always took time out for herself when something with someone I cared about ended. I needed an adequate amount of time to move forward and overthink the situation before I powered on through to the next date. I would watch friends cut their losses, accept the demise of their latest fairytale and just plunder onto the next bloke. But they seemed determined not to allow themselves enough time to deconstruct what went wrong with the last one. And I got it. It's just that that kind of formula never really worked for me.

It genuinely meant a lot to me that I was able to sit back and reflect when things in my life ended. And secretly I was a little judgemental. I've always considered myself a classy sort of gal and while I am more than aware that getting over someone by getting under someone else all too often works - it's just never been for me. 

But the other day I did something really unlike me. I recently messed up something that might have had the potential to be really good. Because I got scared and convinced myself that I was going to get hurt. I don't want to labour on it because it's not what this blogpost is about. It's about what I did next.

I did what my sister, pals and closest allies have been telling me is the secret formula for years. I got straight back on the horse. I got back in touch with the guy who worked offshore who was home for 5 weeks and was desperate to meet me. Even though I had basically been ignoring his texts for ages. I went back on the dating app and reconnected with the couple of decent ones who had kindly taken the time out of their day to virtually smile at me. I started chatting to another guy who I had never managed to get round to meeting but whose utter determination to still make me go for a drink with him even though I kept going quiet was still rather inspiring.

It wasn't like me. And not my usual style. But I realised that I just didn't want to play the victim in the situation. After a significantly stressful break up from a very controlling relationship a couple of years ago followed by getting royally fucked over by a man with seriously questionable morals in the summer of last year, I simply couldn't face the prospect of allowing myself to wallow.

Because here's what I'm learning. Life keeps moving forward. Whether you want it to or not. People keep evolving, you keep evolving. All the new people you are about to meet in the world will never be finished masterpieces. And you probably won't either. 

But you have to keep moving. 

And you have to keep learning. 

How did these dates go? There haven't been any yet. I cancelled the drinks because I just felt it was a bit fast. I needed a few more days to get my head around what had happened. But you know what I realised? I probably should have just gone on the drinks date. Because even if all I was really down for was getting drunk and talking about what a fuck up I was, even if I had ordered us shots and confessed the whole sorry story of my previous liaison to him - what was really the worst that could happen? My expertly honed flirting technique and cheeky sense of humour would have probably gotten me through it. And what if I had liked him and he had listened and he had ended up wanting to see me again anyway? 

Then at least I would have known that what we had was real. 

And that's essentially what I am looking for. 

Something real.

Even if that sometimes means mess. I want happy emotions. But I want raw ones too. I want the rush of endorphins that comes with falling in love. I want to drink whisky with someone till 3 in the morning while tentatively asking questions about their past. I want to get nervous about cooking for someone for the first time and I want to spend half an hour picking a bottle of wine because I'm still dying to impress them. I want the kind of sex that leaves you feeling like you are living on a different planet for the next three days. 

I want to be scared of getting hurt. And to be able to deal with that emotion normally. And then I want the peace. The contentment and the trust. And the feeling of falling in love without fear. 

I don't want drama & I don't want arguments. I don't want accusations or passionate fights. I've only ever had one of those kinds of relationships and it's not an experience I ever want to repeat. I want respect & I want kindness. I want compliments and drunken dinners. I want to know I'm not going to get cheated on and I want someone who doesn't secretly check my phone when I'm not looking. I want someone to call me on the way home from work to talk about what we're eating that night and I want someone who knows my weaknesses but loves me anyway. 

Most importantly - I want someone who isn't afraid to fall. 

I am difficult, impetuous and reactive. I am far too deep and far too honest. I drink too much, think too much and swear too much. I'm a head in the clouds fatalist, a massive romantic and a complete & utter over-thinker. 

And I guess I am absolutely terrified of getting hurt. 

But I know that I deserve to give myself a chance. And that I deserve to give someone else that chance too. I scare easy at the beginning and it has always taken a little bit of time and work with me to get to the good stuff. 

But there has always been good stuff. 

Lots and lots of it. 

And there will most definitely be good stuff again.

Monday, 10 September 2018


As it's now my favourite time of year, I figured it would be a good time to embrace some Cosagach into my life. In case you hadn't heard, the Scottish word Cosagoch has just replaced Hygge as the buzzword of 2018. Cosagach (pronounced coze-sag-och) is an old Gaelic word and is used to describe how the feeling of being warm and sheltered promotes feelings of well being. And anything that encourages me to feel warm, cosy and generally nice inside is something I plan to embrace with full gusto. Especially now that it's no longer acceptable to eat dinner in the garden and all my summer clothes have been banished again to the back of the wardrobe. 

Back in February I spoke about taking the pressure off of myself a little bit and it's something I have been practising in a variety of different forms for a while now. And it's working. Self-care might be becoming the shitty, eye roll inducing cliched para-phrase of last year, but there's certainly something to be said for actually being nicer to yourself.

I love this time of year more than any other. There's something about the turning of summer into autumn that gives me a sense of happy and inner peace. I don't even mind all the rain. Well I do mind the rain but see it is a reasonable price to pay for all the aesthetically pleasing falling leaves, pretty autumnal colours, reasons to cook (and eat) lots off stodge and excuse to burn ridiculously expensive candles. I love leaving work in the dark (I know, I'm weird), the fact that the telly gets really bloody good (I know, I'm sad) and the cosy feeling I get from leaving little lamps and candles on in every room (I know, I need an environmental conscience).

So for the majority of 2018 I have been largely doing what makes me happy. Something I touched upon in my returning blog post a couple of weeks ago. And it's making me feel better than ever. I'm still drinking much more moderately and loving it and in terms of my eating habits I am slowly losing that terrible binge eat/starve philosophy I had taken years to perfect. My general attitude towards lots of different areas in my life has improved greatly too, to be honest.

I was surprised by how many girls got in touch with me after that blog post back in February to say how much that piece of writing had spoken to them. Some related to it in terms of always wanting to lose weight or drink less wine. Others felt I had subconsciously spoken to them about their need to settle down or desire to have a baby. Others just agreed that a combination of trying to look good, trying to be a perfect friend and trying to juggle a career and family all got a bit much for them too sometimes. It struck me that it wasn't just me being hard on myself. That we were all in this together.

So I took the blogging break because I wanted to be nicer to myself and it worked and made me feel much better. I bought the really nice face creams even though I felt guilty about not spending the money on Ava. And I made some big decisions regarding work, friendships and my general well being.

If I don't want to go out then I am slowly learning to just say no. With age comes wisdom and the dawning realisation that actually nobody cares if you don't go to the party. I'm too old for FOMO (fear of missing out) and if I would rather be cosied up on my sofa under a blanket with some chocolate and a dark Scandi crime drama then so be it. I'm not hurting anyone and from what I can see I'm not really missing out on that much either.

It's time we stopped trying to please other people all the time and just did what made us happy. 

I was chatting to a friend recently who was in a bit of a bad way. She was feeling shit, everything was getting on top of her and she couldn't escape a niggling feeling that a sort of depression was looming. She asked me for advice and what I would do in her situation. I told her to do the only thing I knew worked for me. And that was to gather up all her passions and to practise them. Every single day. To work out all the things that made her happy and brought her feelings of contentment and to chase them as often as she could.

These things are different for different types of people. For me they are mostly experience led and rarely cost me any money. Climbing a big hill on what was originally meant to be a lazy Sunday. A 5k run that accidentally turns into a 10k because I'm enjoying it so much. That first sip of Gin & Tonic on a Friday after a long week at work. Lazy Saturday morning brunches with Ava eaten at the table in our PJ's. Exploring abandoned buildings, cooking roast dinners & watching true crime documentaries on Netflix.




A couple of years ago I wrote down a list of all the things that made me happy and then I swore that I would make them become my focus. And that's exactly what I have being doing. Not only does it give you a sense of purpose but it gives you an edge. It gives you your own exquisite personality. Whether its a predilection for science fiction or a geeky fascination with art galleries, discover what makes you feel alive and I promise you will never look back. It gives you something to talk about at dinner parties, it gives you things in common when you go on dates and it gives you a brilliant example to set your children when you're trying to drag them away from the iPad.

So find your you.

You don't have to explain.