If you leave your partner alone to do the gardening your flowers will be murdered

Tomorrow we’re having a party at the house to celebrate my partner’s birthday. We’re kinda ready, in a ‘I’ll just nip to the shops for everything we’ve forgotten 10 mins before the guests arrive’ way. What isn’t ready in any way, is our house. With amazing weather at the weekend and an ‘I really wish I was at the pool rather than here, doing work’ attitude, we borrowed every bit of gardening equipment my next door neighbour owned (thanks Barry!) and set to it.

There was a lot to do so in a 1950’s style mock up my partner got going on the garden and his daughter and I started clearing the house. I forgot how quick and easy using power tools are once you get used to using them. Quite a while into clearing the house I realised I’d been hearing the power tools going for a long, long time and perhaps it was time to investigate what was going on in the garden.

Carnage is probably the best way to describe the scene that greeted me. Yes the grass had been cut, as requested. So had my prized peonies (which only flower once a year and were so close to blooming), my rhubarb, beautiful rose bush and an array of other foliage. I like to look on the bright side of things and am viewing it as a blank canvas to start over and plant new things. When doing so I’ll make sure we definitely know what can and can’t be cut back next time he does the garden. I may also hide the power tools.

I no longer feel like a single parent

Parenting is a strange thing, our own childhoods from the 80s and 90s feel a world away from how we raise our children now. Our children are raised to be kind, sensitive, view the world as an all encompassing, equal place and to have their own voice and use it. This is great when they’re using their voice to agree with you, support your argument or choose the same programme as you want on tv. It’s not so great when they’re screaming that you’re mean because you won’t let them stay up 3 hours past bedtime or are limiting iPad time. Occasionally I crave for the old ‘children should be seen and not heard’ adage.

Having been raised by a strong, single mother since I was 3, I always thought, in the back of my mind, that I may end up as a single parent. At the end of 2016 my marriage ended and this came true. To be honest, not a lot changed, the only difference I really noticed was that there wasn’t anyone in the house to leave the kids with when I had to dash to the shops. I’m lucky that I was supported by an amazing cast of friends who stepped in to help out with childcare, emotional support and oodles of wine. On the good days, the bad days, the tough days and the amazingly awesome days I had my sister, who got me and the boys through every trial and tribulation as well as being there to celebrate our successes. Life felt good.

In 2017 I got together with my partner. We did the usual; spent time getting to know each other, introduced each other to the kids, then the kids to each other, the concept of us dating etc. In the beginning we both felt very responsible for our own children and not particularly responsible for each others’. This then shifted until the day dawned that we are one big, blended family comprising me, my partner, 2 sons, a daughter, a dog, a cat and 3 fish. Nowadays each of us will dash across town to come to one of our children’s rescue, it doesn’t matter which child or who they biologically belong to. The kids squabble and make up as regular siblings would and in all this chaos there’s me and my partner parenting them. Together.

Going to Jersey costs as much as going abroad

Until now I’ve never had the ‘in-laws living miles away’ situation. Now I do and they don’t just live a few hours away, they and the rest of my partner’s relatives live in Jersey. On the one hand, this is great. I’m told there are beaches, the weather should be good and we get to see the relatives again.

What’s not so great is the cost of getting there. Considering Jersey’s part of the UK, I thought it would be simple and cheap to book so I naively told my partner to go to work and I’d sort out the bookings. Both he and I lived to regret this when he was regularly called to ask what port did we need to go to? Did we have to take the kids with us and why on earth was it going to cost £500 to get a boat to the island? No wonder Jersey’s known to be a tax haven for the rich. Only the rich can afford to get there in the first place.

The answers from my partner were: St.Helier. Yes, we’re going because everyone wants to see the kids and don’t know, it just costs that much.

With a part of me feeling a bit discombobulated spending £500 to essentially remain in the UK when we could stay at home for free, I donned the credit card, said a quick prayer that there was room on it and headed onto the website to book our trip. I’ll let you know in August whether the £500 on a ferry was well spent.

When a website breaks, call in the pros

I didn’t set out to be a web designer, it’s something that just happened as part of my marketing role. I started to learn what makes a great website stand out from not-so great ones. Over the course of a couple of years I did an awful lot of research into the latest tools, plugins, design functionality and SEO. In 2015 I took the plunge and learnt how to build websites in WordPress.

Since then I’ve built more websites than I can remember and now offer a website review service helping people to make their website stand out from the crowd. This is all great until something goes wrong with a stray bit of code or update and I’m not quite sure what has happened or how to fix it. Luckily I have super-coder, Stu Chandler as part of my team and a quick couple of WhatsApp messages meant that the website which had had an issue, no longer has issues and is looking shiny once more.

The moral of this story; no man is an island and when your own skills need a bit of a boost, don’t try to go it alone. Calling in the pros is a much quicker and more successful solution.

There is no polite way to use the F word in an email

Bear with me here, I wasn’t insulting anyone but I had to intentionally write the F word in an email…. to the Headteacher of all people. In short, another child had told my 8 year old to F*ck off and whilst quietly admiring the guts this child had, I needed to make the Head aware of it. So feeling like the squarest parent in the world I sat down to email her.

I’m a communications specialist so usually find this quite easy…. nope. The words literally wouldn’t come. Knowing I had to act fast as my son was refusing to go to school until he knew the email had been written, I dredged the usual niceties up and then looked at the 4 letter word staring baldly back at me from the screen. After what felt like an eternity and many amendments to the email I finally settled on the word f*ck and sent it into the ether.

A short while later the Head emailed saying it was totally unacceptable language (the child using it, not me), she’ll admonish the child and hopefully we can all move on. Doesn’t matter how old I get, how many Heads I’ve worked with in my time and how many I have a great relationship with, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being that naughty girl hauled in front of my own Head, aged 14, for saying the F word in school.