Wednesday, 7 June 2023

What I've been doing instead of blogging

I feel like I have neglected my blog a bit lately. I know that I'm still posting but usually I write and schedule lots of posts in advance as well as writing as I go along, and lately I've been scrabbling to get something published! I feel like I've been quite busy though, I've been working on my hobbies and trying out a few new things. So here's what I've been doing recently instead of blogging!

Going for walks - The weather here has been wonderful for weeks. Lovely and sunny but not too hot, the perfect temperature for a long walk. My husband and I try to get out after dinner most days and I often also go out at some point during the day, even if it's just around the block. 

Journalling - I've been really into my journalling lately, I love sitting down for ten minutes or so at a time and writing down my thoughts. It's a mixture of diary entries and just things that are on my mind, nothing too personal just what I'm thinking about, maybe something that I've read in the news. I have also started doing a few little illustrations, very badly, which leads on to my next interest...

Sketching - I've always fancied the idea of having an illustrated journal, especially a travel journal. I did study Art A-Level so I have a vague art qualification which maybe gives me a bit of a head start, but it was a long time ago and the first sketches in my journal didn't look at all how I wanted them to. I discovered Urban Sketching and some artists that work in a really loose way, so I've been following a few tutorials on YouTube and giving it a go!

Some very early attempts at Urban Sketching

Sorting out and reading my old diaries - I have a box of diaries dated from 1991 - 1998, throughout my teenage years. I keep them stashed at the top of the wardrobe and every now and then I get them out to decide if I still want to keep them. The early diaries are fun to read although pretty boring, it's mainly just what I did at school that day. The later ones are much more interesting, especially when boys came on the scene, but they are so embarrassing that I can't bear to read them and I would hate for anyone else to come across them! But they are also filled with memories, like my driving test mark sheets and entries from visiting the Orlando theme parks which I really enjoyed looking back on. So back they went into the wardrobe!

Organising my holiday leaflet and ephemera collection - I've always been a collector, especially of free things, and I have two boxes filled with mementoes from my travels over the years. It wasn't very well organised though, just everything piled in together, so I had fun going through it all. I've got theme park maps going back years and it was interesting to get them all in one place and compare them. It also made me realise that this kind of collection probably won't grow very much, now that everything is done electronically. When we visit an attraction we rarely have a physical ticket, and on our last couple of cruises they no longer give out the daily itineraries - it's all in the app. 

Two boxes filled with travel ephemera

I'm not giving up on the blog though, I love writing it!

Monday, 5 June 2023

Overcoming the fear of journalling in public

I started journalling seriously in February this year and I've kept up the habit, mostly writing daily. I record about what I've done that day, I glue in ephemera, I write about things that I've learned or that have interested me in the news, I copy notes from research about things that have interested me and recently I've started illustrating it with very simple sketches and watercolours.

I write with a fountain pen, and because my journal has smooth pages I love how the ink flows onto the page. Sometimes I write a paragraph or so and sometimes I'll write several pages, and I pick it up throughout the day whenever the fancy takes me.

On the first page of my journal I wrote a list of places that I wanted to write. I wanted to conquer my fear of writing in public, I intended to take it out and about with me, even though I hate the thought of anyone reading what I write.

I started by writing in different positions around the house - in bed, in the egg chair, on the sofa, on the garden chairs, in the car or on the floor. This helped me to find comfortable ways of holding the book and the pen. I also wrote in front of other family members, I think they all took a peek and realised that it wasn't particularly interesting!

Woman sitting on a hill writing in a journal
Photo credit Ashlyn Ciara via Unsplash

The first time that I truly wrote my journal in public was on our cruise holiday over Easter. I wrote while sitting on a chair on deck with my back to the wall and holding the book almost upright so that no-one could see. And I'm pretty sure that no-one even noticed! Then I took it to the beach a couple of times and wrote while sitting on a sun lounger. This was much less private as the beaches were busy with lots of people walking past, but again no-one cared. 

My next step is to become more comfortable with drawing in my journal in public. I think that this will be much more obvious, especially if I get the paints out, and also I'm very aware that my sketching definitely has room for improvement. I don't think anyone would criticise me out loud but I don't want people judging my efforts even internally, especially when they are a work in progress. 

I'm going to start by taking a very small sketchbook up to school with me and drawing in the car, just sketching the things that I can see from where I'm sitting. The houses on the road, trees, and maybe people if anyone stops in one place for long enough. Then I think that my next step will be taking it to the beach and finding a quiet spot while I get used to working outside. Eventually I'd love to be able to create an illustrated journal which I'd be happy to share with others!

Friday, 2 June 2023

What I've been up to lately

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, so I thought I'd share a few of the things that I've been up to lately!


I've been reading a lot as usual, and I recently shared some of my latest top reads. I'm currently reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which is a long book, a former Booker prize winner which is why it caught my eye. I'm enjoying it but it's not an easy read, there are loads of characters and it's important to remember all the relationships between them. Luckily there are some summaries written into the narrative to help to keep the reader caught up with things!

I'm also reading The Rebecca Notebook by Daphne du Maurier which is a short book so I'm trying to make it last as I'm really enjoying it. I love Rebecca and it's interesting to read the original ideas for the plot and also an alternative epilogue.


I've hardly watched any television recently! We don't have any series that we are watching at the moment, and by the time I've got the children in bed it's getting too late to sit down to a film. We did get out to the cinema to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy film which was very good.


Over the last few weeks I've been working on my journal and starting to fill it with a few simple sketches and illustrations. I don't want to share any yet because I'm still learning! I've been really interested in looking at urban sketching - quick, loose sketches that are made while out and about. I'm too shy to take my sketchbook out in public yet but I'm hoping that I can improve my skills a bit at home and build up some courage!

I was incredibly proud of this balloon arch which I made for Mia's birthday to use as a photo backdrop. It was really easy, I bought a kit from Amazon for about £15 but all you really need is a big heap of balloons and some balloon tape, which is a thick plastic tape with holes in for the balloon ties. Blowing up the balloons was a bit of a mission, but the kit came with a balloon tying tool which was really good for saving my fingers. With a foil curtain behind it looked amazing, the trouble is that now everyone will want one for their birthday!

Homemade balloon arch for birthday


I've kept the garden simple this year, I'm only growing sunflowers, tomatoes and broccoli! They have all been doing well outside in the gorgeous sunny weather, most of my tomatoes are still in pots outdoors but this weekend I'll be planting them out in the vegetable patch if I have enough room, I have loads!


With Mia's birthday and half term there has been far too much junk food in the house. We've been making brownies, eating pancakes and waffles, as well as far too many crisps and biscuits. When they are back at school I need to get back to my healthy soups and wraps!


I've felt a bit out of touch with my blog recently which is a shame as I love writing it. I'm finding it a little difficult as the children grow up and I don't like to write about them too much, also I always focussed on crafts for children and now they are too old for that. So I've been brainstorming away and coming up with new ideas for things to write about. 

Feeling proud of

Both my children! Harry took his Computer Science GCSE last term, he's only in year 9 and has pretty much taught himself so I'm really proud of his achievement. Mia has her grade 3 flute exam coming up in a couple of weeks and she's done so well, she works really hard at her practice. She's also taught herself to do the splits and a couple of other difficult yoga poses, she's such a good example of showing massive improvement by working at something every day.

Looking forward to

Is it too early to be looking forward to the summer holidays?! This week has reminded me how lovely it is to have that long stretch without the stress of the school run, packed lunches, homework and so on. We also have a holiday coming up which I'm looking forward to. 

What have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Some Worthing street art and murals

I've been living in and close to Worthing for over twenty years now, and during that time it has definitely become a much cooler town. Lots of people have moved down from London over the years and it has also attracted a lot of people who can't afford to live in Brighton, meaning that it has become a bit more fashionable, more diverse, and just generally a more interesting and vibrant place to live.

I don't head into the town centre that often these days, but as the children's school is quite central I sometimes take myself for a walk after I've parked nearby and recently I've been noticed how much amazing street art there is on my route! I took the photos below on a short loop within half a mile or so of the school, and according to this article - Where to find the best Worthing street art - there is plenty more to find.

I've put this one first because it's the one that I see every day as I approach the road that I park in. It's a portrait of Simon Mayo and from the article above I can see that this and most of the street art that I've discovered are are by an artist called Horace, who can be found on Instagram @the.horace

Simon Mayo street art by Horace in Worthing

This is another that catches my eye, it's on the wall of a charity shop where I'm often dropping off donations and I love the sentiment 'Don't watch the news'!

Worthing Life is Beautiful mural by Horace

Next to it is this amazing cat mandala in gorgeous shades of blue.

Worthing cat mural mandala street art by Horace

I also love this portrait by the same artist on the wall of a pub.

Worthing mural face on building by Horace

Of course it wouldn't be Worthing without a seagull!

Worthing street art seagull on electrical box

Finally I think this this work on The Libertine Social is by a different artist, I love the bright cheerful flowers.

Street art flowers at The Libertine Social in Worthing

Reading the article above has inspired me to go hunting for more street art as it looks as though Worthing is quite a hotspot for it!

Cat mural mandala close up by Horace

Exploring Cairo: An unforgettable journey into Egypt's capital

This is a collaborative post


Cairo, the vibrant capital of Egypt, is a city steeped in history, culture, and intrigue. From the majestic pyramids of Giza to the bustling markets and stunning mosques, Cairo offers a captivating blend of ancient wonders and modern delights. If you're planning a trip to Cairo, this article will serve as your comprehensive guide, providing essential information, travel tips, and must-visit attractions to ensure a memorable and enriching experience.

Preparing for Your Trip

a) Valid Passport: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. Check the entry requirements for your country of residence and ensure you have the necessary visa or entry permit, click here for travel visa requirements.

b) Climate and Clothing: Cairo experiences hot summers and mild winters. Dress modestly and comfortably, keeping in mind the cultural norms and respect for local traditions. Light, breathable clothing is recommended, along with sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable walking shoes.

c) Health and Safety: Consult your healthcare provider or a travel clinic to determine if any vaccinations or medications are recommended for your trip. Take necessary precautions against the sun, stay hydrated, and be cautious of your surroundings.

Important Tips

a) Check Visa Validity: Ensure that your visa is valid for the duration of your stay in Cairo. Overstaying your visa can result in fines or other complications when leaving the country. If you wish to extend your stay, contact the Egyptian immigration authorities well in advance to explore the possibility of obtaining a visa extension.

b) Travel Insurance: It is highly recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen circumstances during your stay in Cairo.

c) Keep Copies: Make photocopies or digital scans of your passport, visa, and other important documents. Keep these copies separate from the originals and carry them with you. It will be helpful in case of loss or theft of your documents.

Getting to Cairo

a) Flight: Cairo is well-connected to major international airports worldwide. Book your flights in advance to secure the best deals and convenient travel times. Cairo International Airport is the primary gateway, located approximately 15 kilometres northeast of the city centre.

b) Transportation: From the airport, various transportation options are available, including taxis, ride-sharing services, and airport shuttles. Ensure you use licensed taxis and agree upon a fare before beginning your journey.

Exploring Cairo's Highlights

a) The Pyramids of Giza: A visit to Cairo is incomplete without witnessing the iconic Pyramids of Giza. Marvel at the Great Pyramid of Khufu, explore the ancient tombs, and take a moment to ponder the mysteries of these incredible structures.

Pyramids of Giza
Photo credit Spencer Davis via Unsplash

b) Egyptian Museum: Immerse yourself in Egypt's rich history at the Egyptian Museum, home to an extensive collection of artefacts, including the treasures of Tutankhamun. Admire the awe-inspiring exhibits and gain insights into the ancient civilization.

c) Islamic Cairo: Step into the heart of the city's historic district, where you'll find an array of architectural gems, such as the iconic mosques of Sultan Hassan and Al-Rifa'i, along with the bustling Khan El Khalili bazaar. Lose yourself in the maze of narrow streets, and indulge in the vibrant atmosphere and traditional handicrafts.

d) Coptic Cairo: Discover the Christian heritage of Egypt at Coptic Cairo, where you can visit the Hanging Church, the Coptic Museum, and the Ben Ezra Synagogue. Delve into the religious and cultural significance of this ancient community.

e) Nile River Cruise: Embark on a relaxing Nile River cruise, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city's skyline, savor delicious cuisine, and experience traditional Egyptian entertainment. Choose from various cruise options, ranging from a few hours to several days.

Essential Travel Tips

a) Cultural Sensitivity: Respect the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and be mindful of local norms and etiquette.

b) Language: Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Familiarize yourself with common Arabic phrases to enhance your interactions with locals.

c) Currency and Tipping: The official currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). It's advisable to carry some cash for small purchases and tipping. Tipping is customary in Egypt, particularly for service providers such as guides, drivers, and waitstaff.

d) Bargaining: Negotiating prices is common when shopping at local markets and bazaars in Cairo. Bargaining is a cultural practice, so don't be afraid to negotiate for a better price. Remember to maintain a friendly and respectful attitude while engaging in the process.

e) Local Transportation: Cairo has an extensive public transportation system, including the Cairo Metro, buses, and taxis. The metro is an efficient and affordable way to navigate the city. Taxis are also widely available, but make sure to use licensed taxis with functioning meters or agree on a fare before starting your journey.

f) Safety Precautions: While Cairo is generally safe for tourists, it's always important to remain vigilant. Take precautions such as keeping your valuables secure, avoiding isolated areas at night, and following any local safety advisories.

g) Local Cuisine: Indulge in the flavors of Egypt by trying traditional dishes such as koshari, falafel, and delicious street food. Be mindful of food hygiene practices and opt for bottled water to stay hydrated.

h) Time Management: Cairo is a bustling city with a rich array of attractions. Plan your itinerary wisely and allocate sufficient time for each site. Consider the potential crowds and allow for extra time in case of unexpected delays or closures.

Photo credit Omar Elsharawy via Unsplash


A journey to Cairo offers an extraordinary blend of ancient wonders, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. By preparing adequately, respecting local customs, and exploring the city's iconic landmarks and hidden gems, you can embark on an unforgettable adventure. Immerse yourself in the rich history, savour the flavours of Egyptian cuisine, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Cairo awaits, ready to enchant and captivate you with its timeless allure.

Friday, 26 May 2023

Some books that I've enjoyed recently

I read a lot, and every now and then I like to share some of the books that I have particularly enjoyed in case anyone is looking for reading inspiration!

Here are some books that I have loved over the past month or so:

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Having really enjoyed The Book of Form and Emptiness I was very keen to read more by Ruth Ozeki and I wasn't disappointed. This book is slightly biographical and tells the story of a Canadian author who finds a journal washed up on her local beach, written by teenage girl Nao who grew up in America but has reluctantly moved with her family to Japan. Ruth is pulled into Nao's story and tries to learn more about her and the story that she is telling, and the whole thing is beautifully written.. 

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

I've loved The Poisonwood Bible for years and have re-read it many times, so I can't believe it has taken me this long to read another book by Barbara Kingsolver! Set in southern Appalachia in a remote forested location, the book follows several different characters and appeals to many of my reading interests - an isolated cabin in the woods, peace and quiet, a love of reading, observing nature through the seasons and working towards a goal, as well as some romance. I loved the descriptive text and the way that the voices of the different characters shone through.

A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

Set in Cornwall just after WW2, we meet Marvellous Ways, a ninety year old woman who has lived a remote existence for most of her life. She's ready for one last adventure when she meets Freddy Drake, a young soldier returned from the war with a letter to deliver. As well as being beautifully written the book was also incredibly poignant and really brought home how the war traumatised a whole generation of people from all ages and backgrounds.

The Birdcage by Eve Chase

This was a gripping read, three adult half-sisters are brought together by their famous artist father to the windswept Cornish cliff house where they spent their summers as children before tragedy struck. There are lots of secrets to uncover and it kept me wanting to read more!

Mrs de Winter by Susan Hill

This one wasn't my favourite I must admit, but I love, love, love the book Rebecca and I was intrigued to read a 'sequel' so I thought I'd include it here. It was an enjoyable read but it lacked the writing style of Daphne du Maurier and so it couldn't compare in that respect. The thing I love most about Rebecca is the way that much of the action in the book doesn't happen, it's all in the narrator's imagination. This sequel didn't use that technique at all, although the narrator does admit that she doesn't live in her own thoughts much as she used to. It was also a little bit too convenient, with almost every character from Rebecca being brought back and their story updated. When I first finished it I felt a little sad that I had read it, but a few weeks on I can see that it wasn't that terrible and I did enjoy it.

Pile of books on the windowsill
Photo credit Florencia Viadana via Unsplash

Thursday, 25 May 2023

How to make home office easier as a parent

This is a collaborative post

With remote work increasingly becoming a reality for many parents, the lines between work and family obligations often become blurred. Having the freedom and flexibility of a remote job undoubtedly promises many benefits, but as fulfilling as that may be, the challenges of simultaneously managing work and parenting can sometimes become overwhelming. Juggling work and child-rearing under one roof is a balancing act, requiring clear thinking and planning in order to maintain family harmony.

Simply put, with weekend remote jobs on Jooble, it has never been so easy to find the perfect job and work from home. Let’s dive in!

Woman carrying her baby while working on a laptop
Photo credit Anastasia Shuraeva via Pexels

Six Tips for Balancing a Work Office and Family Life

Here are some useful insights into making your work at home more organized and easier to manage as a parent:

1. Establish a routine

Start by creating a daily schedule that includes dedicated work time and breaks to coincide with your children's routines. Take your children's daily routines, including mealtimes, naps, and school activities, into consideration when creating your schedule.
A set routine will not only help you manage your time more efficiently but also lay down clear rules and expectations for both you and your children. 

2. Set boundaries

Clearly communicate your work hours and expectations to your children. One way to let them know you’re busy working and are not to be disturbed is by using a "do not disturb" sign or another signal that will indicate that you should not be interrupted. Explain to your children that these are your "office hours" when you need to concentrate solely on work.

3. Create a dedicated workspace

Setting aside a specific area in your home as your home office is essential. A designated space will provide a physical boundary that helps separate your professional and personal life. 
Choose a quiet spot in your home that is away from noise and distractions, such as a spare room, or a corner of a room. 

4. Communicate with your children

Explaining the importance of your work to your children and the need for uninterrupted time is crucial for minimizing distractions. Explain to them why your work is important. Help them understand that your work allows you to provide for the family. Emphasize that while you love spending time with them, your work is another important responsibility that requires your full attention.
Be patient and understanding with your children as they adjust to the new routine. It may take time for them to fully grasp the concept and respect your need for uninterrupted work time. 

5. Take advantage of nap time and bedtime

Planning your most important or focused work during your children's nap time or after they go to bed can be a game-changer in terms of productivity. A quiet house with minimal distractions is a golden opportunity to work with undivided concentration.

6. Make use of support

Sometimes, things can get a little hectic and overwhelming. These are the times when you need to call in the troops for support. Ask a member of your family or hire a caregiver to help out when you need to get your work done. 

Here are some of the ways you can get support when needed:

Partner involvement
If you have a partner, discuss ways to share parenting responsibilities. Coordinate your schedules to ensure that both of you have dedicated work time while taking turns caring for your children. 

Family members
Enlist the support of family members. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other relatives may be willing to help with childcare, especially during times when you have important deadlines or meetings. 

Consider hiring a caregiver. This could be a nanny, babysitter, or daycare service. 

Final thoughts

Balancing the demands of work and parenting when working from home can be a major adjustment for both you and your family. There will be moments of difficulty and frustration, but don't be too hard on yourself when things don't go as planned. Be comforted by the fact that it will get easier as time goes by and you and your family settle into a balanced routine that works for everyone.
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