Bouncing back from the festive excess


Bleurgh! If you’re anything like me, you’ve lumbered into 2016 with all the grace of a drunken ostrich. Your stomach is flabby from too much festive eating, your skin is dry from the winter weather and your exhaustion is exacerbated by the continual night time that graces the chilly season.

Chances are your New Year’s resolution has been to get fit. But so far you’ve picked up a king-size chocolate bar every evening with your newspaper, gone home and watched reruns of Friends while lounging in your pants!

If the disappointed face of your local newsagent isn’t enough to make you want to get back into shape, then do it for yourself.

With a New Year comes a new you, so they say – wouldn’t you prefer it if the new you didn’t feel lousy from overconsumption?

I’ve come up with a few tips to help you look healthier and get fit by the time Spring rears its sunny head. Take a look.

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Goodbye 2015… and thank you


I lost my husband in 2015.

Sounds very careless of me, doesn’t it? Like I left him at the bus stop or something.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to belittle my marriage break-up. I guess I just use humour to cope with things.

But yes, when I look back at the year gone by, that’s probably the biggest event I’ll remember. That’s what 2015 has become in the milestones of my life. The year I ceased to be his other half and became “the ex”.

(And probably a lot of other, less-flattering descriptions which an impending divorce inevitably brings).

In the same way that old saying “Be careful what you wish for” tells us that an apparent blessing can be a curse, I’ve learned that what can appear to be a life-falling-apart disaster can bring with it so many gifts.

And it really is true that sometimes we don’t know what is best for us.

I’ve said a little this year about how life turned upside down, with a decision which was taken out of my hands, leaving very little option but to put one foot in front of the other.

As I journeyed through 2015, the landscape hasn’t been as bad as I feared.

Alongside the inevitable sadness, this past year has brought a lot to be thankful for.

And before I look forward to what 2016 might bring, it seems only fitting to send a big old thank you note to the last 12 months.

For the following gifts…

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What do your Christmas presents say?


When it comes to giving gifts, I hate to be predictable.

Socks, aftershave, bath salts…. they’re all very well but hardly memorable presents to endear you to friends and family.

I always like to pick items which say something about how I feel about them.

There are plenty of ideas in the shops which are either unusual or very personal to show that you care.

Here are some of the things I’ll be saying with my gifts this year.

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My top five family holiday destinations


When the cold weather and dark nights start drawing in, who can help but dream of sun-kissed beaches?

Planning our next vacation helps me to turn my focus away from the long Winter months and give us something to look forward to, once the Christmas tree is packed away and I’m hitting the gym to get rid of the festive excesses.

We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some fabulous family holidays, and over the years I’ve built up a list of real favourite destinations with lots to do for the kids and adults alike.

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My Walt Disney World checklist


Resistance is futile when it comes to the magic of Disney.

Not a child – or adult for that matter – can fail to be seduced by Walt’s world.

And if my kids aren’t belting out “Let It Go” in a Frozen stylee, they’re beating their chests and singing “Oooh be doooo, I wanna be like you” like the little monkeys they are.

So it follows that Walt Disney World is on our wishlist of holiday destinations.

But since becoming a single parent, I’m aware that I can probably only afford one trip – and I need to make it count.

So planning is essential to make sure we get it right and make the kind of memories which will last a lifetime.

Here’s my checklist of things to do before heading to Orlando for that much-longed-for family trip.

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Spread the love & #PrayforParis if you want to



I got on my soapbox just a little bit this weekend.


Because of the number of people on social media sharing stuff like this




On the face of it, this cartoon is polite.

But don’t be fooled. The message is “you can stick your prayers… we don’t want or need them… we know how to express sympathy and solidarity – and your way is wrong”.

This was inevitably picked up by those against religion – be it Muslim or faith as a whole – as a way of arguing that believing in God(s) is the source of all evil and the reason for the world’s problems.

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Sending the right Christmas message



With social media making it easier to keep in touch, I’m finding many of my friends don’t bother with Christmas cards any more – preferring to post an online message of festive cheer.

But they still matter quite a bit to me, as a way of telling people I don’t see every day that they are in my thoughts.

I think they’re also a good way of showing the boys that life is about more than typing out a text or poking someone on Facebook.

Putting pen to paper is far more personal than a snowman emoji, and a better way to hold onto relationships that matter.

Christmas cards might be the one time of year I sit down and write to someone I haven’t seen in a while – summarising the news of the last 12 months and how the kids have grown, suggesting a meet-up in the future and even enclosing a family photo.

So Christmas cards are important to me. When it comes to sending them to my loved ones, I go for the following types:

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Saving for my children’s future


I love being a mum. It’s a journey that, despite leaving me pulling my hair out at times, I am truly happy to be on.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I catch myself wondering whether or not I’m doing a good job. There’s no right or wrong way of being a mum but I do hope that my children will always be happy, healthy and well educated.

I often wonder what they are going to end up doing career wise when they are older. Have I got a little doctor, teacher or astronaut (if my little one had his way) on my hands?

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To my sons: An apology


My beautiful boys,

I’m sorry.

Those two words don’t quite seem to cut it. But they’re true.

Since your Dad left a few short weeks ago and we became a fractured family, you’ve had a lot of adapting to do.

And I’m sorry for so many things.

But in these last few weeks I’m especially aware that I need to apologise to you, for some things in particular.

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9/11: A snapshot in time


I was surprised to see a former colleague share this on Facebook today.

Me, on September 11 2001, standing with colleagues in the newsroom of the paper I worked for, watching the horrors of the terrorist attacks unfold on television.

It’s a snapshot in time, of 14 years ago.

What does it make me think?

It makes me think how I was only 28 at the time. How I hadn’t even got married by then, how my two children hadn’t been born…

Basically how far I’ve come since.

But how so many lives ended abruptly on that day…..

And all of that possibility, all of that life, was never lived.


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