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Dear Opinion…

Having just joined in a #soulfulPR webinar about writing opinion pieces, I thought I’d republish this piece from my Bristol Woman column. Seeing as I’ve been learning about how to be like Marmite and all…

Dear Opinion,

Recently many things have happened in the world, which make me doubt you contain any good at all. And that’s a great shame because your power has the ability to resolve conflicts and create a united world. If only people knew how to handle you.

You work best on the ignorant, on those that feel they are entitled to you because of your content, and that it can be adapted to prove the point they so strongly feel needs to be heard. Do you feel empowered by this? Or when someone turns you in to a belief so strong that it makes them end friendships, disown family members, or even kill? 

You make people vulnerable because they often believe you without having all of the facts. And then, when people link you with politics or religion without evidence or having done any real, solid research, you become even more dangerous. But then you enjoy that. Gain strength by feeding people and making them seek out others who think the same, until they form an army of poorly informed, angry and disillusioned people. 

These are people who accept the dark side of you because they have mothers, fathers or friends who think in the same way. Or worse…because they are so disillusioned and feeling misplaced that they feel comforted by holding onto you tight. They are enlightened; they have found people who think the same way. They are then led to believe that you are he only way forward, the truth, their destiny. Judgments are made. Groups of people are tarred with the same brush. They then feel they are entitled to you and must voice damaging words in order to reach out to other broken souls. 

If only you came with a manual or instruction booklet. Then people would know how to use you correctly. They’d find the evidence and facts needed in order to form you properly. Some people believe everything they read or hear and then try and convince others to think the same.

You could hold so much power and have the ability to change the world for the better, if only people invested in you more and took you seriously.
No one is entitled to you. But then, that’s just my opinion, right?

From Me.

2016 Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival

This all looks very exciting. I’m thrilled to be taking my boys to the Gromit making session. Sign up now, it’s free!

Press Release

13th September 2016

Kids of all ages can have gripping Encounters with cinema in Bristol

The programme for the 2016 Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival features special screenings for children and teenagers plus hands-on workshops where you can make your own version of Aardman Animations’ favourite characters.

The festival, which runs from 20th to 25th September at the Watershed in Bristol, features special sessions of family-friendly films. Using a unique approach, organisers asked children to review a selection of films and pick their favourites to be shown at Encounters, so all the movies have been already approved by younger audiences.

On Saturday 24th from 9.30am an hour of films for those aged seven and over will be shown. These include First Snow, the story of a curious hedgehog trying to find his way home in winter, and Wolf, the tale of ballet-loving carnivore looking for somewhere to practice in the woods.

Later day, from 11am, teenagers aged 14 and over can enjoy a programme of films reviewed and selected by those of the same age. This collection includes Ollie Boy, the story of Paris resident Malick who skateboards all day and dreams of escaping to America.

As well as these carefully-selected short films and animations aimed at different age groups, younger festival-goers can get hands-on to construct their own version of an Aardman Animations’ favourite.

On Saturday September 24th at 3pm an Aardman expert will be on hand to help children, accompanied by an adult, make their own Shaun the Sheep to take home. This workshop is free but tickets must be booked in advance. There will also be a workshop for making another Aardman character – Gromit – at 1pm the same day.

The two workshops are part of the festival’s way of marking 40 years of Aardman’s incredible movie making. On Tuesday 20th September Aardman’s co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton will make a rare joint public appearance to look back at their films, which have thrilled cinema audiences for the past four decades.

Tickets for Encounters cost £4.50 for anyone under 24, with adult tickets costing £6, £5.50 concessions. For a full programme for Encounters, which features more than 40 live events and 100 films, see

‘I’m sorry for your loss.’

When a baby dies it is often a time when people do not know what to say, or how to help. And so they often say nothing due to a fear of saying the wrong thing.

This incredibly moving post is a story of how one woman, Charlotte, is feeling following the death of her baby during pregnancy. She has set up @heart_spill and hopes it can be a place where others can share stories and support each other, whilst raising awareness. It is a safe place where people can talk about pregnancy loss, and not ignore it. Talking is good. It is healing.

*Please if you are in anyway sensitive to this subject then be aware this may be very painful to read.

I am sorry for your loss.

Every time those 5 little words came through on my phone I wanted to scream, “what does that even mean?” Those 5 words irritated and bruised my soul. As time goes on, however, I realise that a loss is exactly what I have experienced. Don’t get me wrong, I did not lose my baby. No, my baby died.

But I have lost other things, things that someone who has never been in my position would not even imagine I have lost. 

I feel like I look at what happened as if I was watching a distant family member or neighbor go through it, with a slight haze across my eyes and a “poor them, how awful’ expression on my face. Every now and again, however, I remember that it was me laid in that room, me that heard the sonographer say those words and me who ever so gently stroked my babies hand two days later, my baby that would not be coming home.  It is me who will never quite be the same person again. 

Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy period in your life, “you are glowing” people tell you, “do you have any names yet?” people ask. You get a buzz in your stomach with excitement speaking about it. Even before the secret is out, you sneak online to look at baby grows and make a note of which ones you will buy once you have had your 12-week scan.

Charlotte 1

This is the way it should be. This is not the way it will be for me if I decide to try again. I will never again think of a 12-week scan as a safe zone, my eyes have been opened to a side of pregnancy that is much less fun and exciting, a side that is instead anxiety fueled, and stressful. A side where I will wake up every morning and think, “why do I not feel sick today,” “should I have felt you move by now?” The idea of sitting in that waiting room again and being called into the room where my heart snapped is a thought that makes my bones ache. Pregnancy will never again be the same for me.

Charlotte 2

 On 27th September I was due to meet my baby, but I have already done that and have already said goodbye.

I had hoped that by the time my due date arrived I would have some answers as to why this happened. I had hoped that having that information would enable me to make a decision as to what I wanted to do next. But hope is fleeting.

My baby was sent off to Oxford over 12 weeks ago for a Post Mortem, but I have yet to receive any results. How or why my baby died is still a mystery and all I can do is continue to wait. Wait to find out whether there is anything medically wrong with me or whether I will never know why, and it was something that “just happened” as the doctor explained to me can be the case. The amount of what if’s that run through my head on a daily basis is exhausting. I let them creep in for only a moment and then I shut them away somewhere dark, somewhere that I don’t like to look.

During one weekend a couple of weeks ago now, three people in my life had their babies. Three people who announced their pregnancies not long before myself and who I was looking forward to spending my maternity leave with. We discussed mother and baby exercise classes, what prams we were getting and what foods we could not stomach that day. Usually when you hear that someone close to you has had a baby you are full of happiness for them. I did not feel any happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I would never have wanted anything else for them, I would not wish what happened to me on anyone. But I cannot act like I am full of happiness. I did not cry tears of joy, I just cried. With each announcement I cried. Cried for my loss, cried that I would not be in the same position as them in 5 weeks, as I should have been.

Charlotte 3

 The normal thing to do when someone you know has a baby is to pop out and buy a card and a gift and wait excitedly for them to ask you to pop around for a cuddle. Previous me would have been all over this. Current me cannot think of anything more painful. Current me is worried that I will crumble in front of them, that my “brave” veil will slip and I will be outed as the fraud that I am. A fraud who cries alone in the shower and in the car, a fraud who cannot help being green with jealousy that it worked for them and not for me. A fraud who punishes herself for these feelings on a daily basis, even though my therapist tells me that they are completely normal.

 Now as you can imagine, people don’t want to talk about a baby dying, why would they? It is not a pleasant thing to talk about, it’s not The Bake Off… This natural human reaction however creates a distance. A distance that is forged from awkwardness.

The difficulty seems to lie in the fact that people don’t appear to know how to talk to me anymore. People no longer look at me how they used to, their voices seem to have changed, their heads tilt to the side whilst they are talking to me and there is sometimes an ‘am I going to break her?” look on their face. You are not going to break me, believe me, I am pretty tough. If my experience in that hospital didn’t break me, you saying the wrong thing to me definitely won’t.

The thing people need to remember is that people who have “lost” a baby do not want to talk about that solely. Sometimes I will want to and that is part of the healing, but most days I just want to talk to you, talk about normal things, things I would have talked about before this happened to me. Please let me.

Charlotte 4

“I am sorry for your loss.”

There is nothing wrong with that sentence. There is nothing wrong with saying that to someone like me, it shows that you are thinking of the person, it shows that you care, it is 100% better than saying nothing. Just please make sure that you think about what that person has truly lost before you say it.





















Badge take 2

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Time: Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science. Some simple, relatively uncontroversial definitions of time include “time is what clocks measure” and “time is what keeps everything from happening at once” (Wikipedia)

Last night I made the mistake of reading the news, and it got me thinking (and feeling ranty!) I read this article- – about how Michael Gove is proposing longer school days and less school holidays.

The article frustrated me for a number of reasons. Children need time to be children. Childhood is such a magical time and is for such a short period in our lives. Children need time to PLAY and EXPLORE. With what Gove has suggested they’ll be too damn knackered to do any of those things. Too exhausted by endless hours trying to be the best. I’m not saying have no aspirations or aim high, I’m passionate about encouraging children to achieve their full potential, but it frustrates me because some children could be at school 24 hours a day/7 days a week (my daughter is one of them) and they would still never be the best. It doesn’t mean that these children don’t have skills, or talents, or will be amazingly successful in their lives. Encouraging children to DO their best would be a far better route to take. It doesn’t go hand in hand that the more time you spend in school the more academically intelligent you are. Gove has looked at other countries and decided that their education system is better than ours, and proposed that we adopt their rules. But, as I say on MANY occasions, ALL children are different and what works so well for one, could be a compete disaster for another. Why does one concept for education suit all? It couldn’t possibly! It makes me wonder if in coming to this conclusion, Gove has truly thought about the consequences on children, parents or teachers? Has he thought about what’s best for each child or only what they ‘should be’ or ‘ought to be’ doing? Does he think that getting grade As is the only thing that matters? Is that what he values? Is that what success is solely measured by, how well we do academically at school?

This then also made me think of someone I know very well. There are so many things that she does with her children that are very different to the way I parent my children. And whilst I’m a huge advocate for bringing up different children in different ways it got me thinking as to whether she (and me for that matter!) is listening to them and bringing them up how they dictate, or whether she is parenting how she thinks she ought to. Do we do what we think is best for our children, without possibly really finding out what is actually best for them? Do we know our children’s natural talents or their interests, are they allowed to nurture any?

We all have dreams and hopes for our children before they are even born, but do our children always follow our hopes and ideals for them? You might want your son to like football, yet all he talks about is rugby. You might want your daughter to be a ballerina, yet all she craves is hip-hop. And you might want your child to be the cleverest in their class, yet they still struggle at school.

Michael Gove is, in my opinion, naive if he thinks that by placing children in school for longer they will each magically become a genius! Are schools becoming too focused by paperwork and results and grades, too focused on numbers and statistics, when they are said to be more ‘child-centred?’ Is Gove too focused on ‘shoulds,’ ‘musts’ and ‘ought tos?’

When I had my daughter I was young and naive and doing it on my own. I gave her a bottle for an evening feed at four weeks because that is what I was told I ought to do. I never co-slept because I was told she should sleep in her own bed. I became frustrated because she didn’t do what she ought to be doing. She didn’t eat as much as she should. But as she grew up, a strong willed and stubborn red haired child, all of the, shoulds, musts and ought tos went out of the window. And instincts kicked in.

She liked to wear blue, wasn’t the sort of child that liked ballet and liked to graze on food all day instead of having three set meals. And at school, she struggled. She didn’t learn to read when she should have. She couldn’t count to ten when she ought to have. But it didn’t make me want her to go to school more. It didn’t make me want to get her a tutor or drown her in homework. It made me want to take away the stresses of school and the pressure off. It made me want to have as much fun with her as we possibly could at home. She was allowed to be a child. We played, we laughed, we sang, and she relaxed. She can count now, and she can read and write. And she has a wealth of experiences to draw upon when doing these things.

Pushing children, in my opinion, is never going to work. It potentially just gives them more chances to fail to reach what are often unrealistically high expectations. It’s the classic teacher quote of ‘could do better!’ I think they should be encouraged to pursue their talents, play as much as possible and be supported in being confident of who they are.

What do you think?

Read Your Baby

Read Your Baby

Read your baby, not a book,
Go on give them a good look.
Listen to what they’re telling you,
Then you’ll know just what to do.

Trust your instincts, you know best,
Give the guilt and doubt a rest.
You know your baby inside out,
I know you do, you know, don’t doubt.

But ‘help’ you cry ‘I don’t know how,
I don’t know what to do right now.
I know, I’ll pick up a baby book,
I’ll only have one real quick look.’

‘Hold on, no wait this isn’t true,
What it says my baby doesn’t do,
Now I feel worse than I did before,
I don’t know if I’m a good mum anymore.’

It’s when you doubt and feel like this,
Throw out the books, give them a miss.
Sit down somewhere, think things through,
Hear your instincts speak to you.

They will tell you what to do,
If you trust them to help you through.
Do you need to hold baby tight?
Do your instincts tell you what’s right?

Do you need to ask a friend?
Do you need them wine to send?
Confidence and trust you need,
To use your instincts, sow the seed.

Why don’t you try, give it a go,
And if it works then let me know.
It might be hard first, at the start,
But it soon becomes part of your heart.

Prose for Thought

Essentials of Life

Essentials of Life

A short and sweet #wednesdaywords which has been inspired by this….


This hangs in my hallway. It was a gift from my very best friend this Christmas. (Yes, good old Cynthia again!) It sums up me so well, as the writing says everything I believe in. It represents all of the things which I need. I need to be busy, otherwise I can spiral into a pit of pure laziness! I need people to love (as well as needing people to love me!) and I ALWAYS need something to look forward to, even if it’s simply a cup of tea and a piece of cake. It reminds me, when I’m feeling low, of all the lovely people I have around me, and of all the lovely things that are yet to happen and that I have to look forward to.

Quite frankly, I love it! Do you have a quote or motto you like to live by?

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