Toyah Wilcox, Bingo And Me

DSC_0171

What did you do last Thursday?

Watch TV? Eat pizza? Read a magazine? Take a bath?

That’s my usual Thursday regimen, too – yeah, I’m wild – but last Thursday was a little bit different. I’d been invited to take part in a Twitter Q&A with the legend that is Toyah Willcox in association with the team behind The Sun’s online bingo show! You can’t get more modern than that when it comes to interviewing a celebrity, can you?

The last Twitter Q&A I did was way back in my Vice Magazine days of 2009, very hungover, with Mariachi El Bronx, a heavy metal band from New York with a Mariachi side project (well, duh, don’t all heavy metal bands?). I had a feeling this one might be slightly different…

I’m a big fan of Toyah. She lives in the Worcestershire town I grew up in and widely regarded as a local legend so I was really excited to chat to her. I’d been invited down to The Sun’s jazzy studios (plied with the promise of wine, even!) and was excited to meet their celebrity crew – Brian Dowling and Rustie Lee – but as many of the best plans are this was scuppered by a baby with a temperature. Baby Hux: killing off my celebrity social life since 2012 ;)

And so we were to do it over the phone… and here it is! Lovely Toyah on the blower to me! We had a grand old chat with questions being asked of her via my Twitter feed (some more sensible than others)…

DSC_0309

So here it is: 13 things you’ve always wanted to know about Toyah Willcox. All in 140 characters or less.

Q: Who are you backing on I’m a Celebrity?
A: I think Melanie Sykes is amazing!

Q: If you could learn another language what would it be?
A: French. Because that allows you to watch lots of European movies. And my second choice is Spanish

Q: Do you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?
A: As soon as I get up! But then also after breakfast, too

Q: What’s your favourite Tube stop?
A: I love Westminster – you can feel the history there

Q: Have you ever owned a Toyotah?
A: No! I tend to drive Peugeot

Q: Have you kept her ‘Most Fanciable Female’ award from Smash Hits? (Kim Wilde was runner-up….)
A: Yes! I keep all my awards in my London home in my office.

Q: Your brilliant album Desire is the only one to never get a cd reissue. Will it ever see the light of day again?
A: I own the rights to desire & am holding it back for the right time…

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
A: I’ve never been to Bali and have always wanted to go

Q: Do you keep your ketchup and eggs in the fridge or out of the fridge?
A: both in the fridge!

Q: Which 5 people would you invite to a dinner party?
A: Joan of Arc, David Bowie, Florence Nightingale, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen Victoria

Q: The eighties: which outfit would you bring back and why?
A: Thunder in the Mountains – slashed black suede dress: perfect for rocking out on-stage!

Q: Who was your favourite Teletubby?
A: LaaLaa as I am very short – we had that in common. 

Q: What is your favourite way to relax?
A: I love the simplicity of walking, either in the city or countryside

Next week’s celebrity guest on The Sun’s bingo channel is another legend of my childhood, Dave Benson Philips. Join along at the Romance Room tomorrow from 7pm, and remember – Have A Ball!

Huge thank-yous to The Sun Bingo for supporting MTT and introducing me to the legend that is Toyah Willcox ;) 

 

 

 

Be Safe, Be Seen

IMG_2221

As the clocks have now gone back – ugh ugh there aren’t enough words to say how wrong it is waking up in the dark – The Co-operative Funeralcare have launched their national Be Safe, Be Seen campaign. They donate their special yellow high visibility pin-on badges to primary schools all over the country with the aim of helping to keep them safe after sundown.

IMG_2227

They kindly sent some badges over for us and our friends to help kick-off the campaign. As soon as they arrived both Elfie and Hux wanted to put them on (though one of those people was a little more camera shy than the other). Road safety is so important and is something I’ve always drilled into them so it’s a campaign we’re all really happy to support.

IMG_2220

IMG_2219

(Please note my son’s amazing pink and green nails, insisted on when he saw me painting mine red)

Here are some really great tips from The Co-operative Funeralcare to discuss with your children this winter and a wonderful video to help them better understand road safety:

  • Looking out for and encouraging your children to be aware of hidden entrances or driveways when crossing pavements.
  • Making sure your children walk on the side of pavements away from the traffic.
  • When crossing the road your child should always choose a safe place and time to cross. It’s always safer to cross at a pedestrian or patrolled crossing.
  • Avoid crossing between parked cars as drivers won’t be able to see children who do this very well.
  • It’s important to stop at the curb, look both ways and listen to traffic before crossing. Pedestrian crossings can still be dangerous if care is not taken.
  • All pedestrians should wait on the pavement until all the traffic from both directions has stopped as this is the safest time to cross. Islands are often provided in the middle of the road, so children should treat each half as a separate crossing.
  • Children should avoid playing near busy roads as they can often forget their surroundings and become unaware of the dangers on the road.

For more information on The Co-operative’s valuable work educating children on road safety, do pop along to their website and have a read.

This is a Netmum’s sponsored review.

bloggers_logo_medium

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For?

10727288_805130932858821_2041644336_n

I DID IT AGAIN.

I got so involved with work/The X Factor/doing a North of England tour (the Lake District is lovely even in the rain, innit) that every time I sit down to write something here there is NOTHING LEFT. Which is a weird feeling to have.

I actually got home from work with two tired and screaming children a couple of weeks ago and just felt this thing of not having anything left to give anyone at all. No energy to talk, to parent, to email, to read. If I remember correctly to make myself feel better I just had a massive mug of tea – because that’s how I roll these days – and went to bed at 8.30pm after one of those self-pitying weeps that makes you feel much better.

It was a great feeling, though, because it means I am giving everything I have. And I’m all about making the most out of life at the moment (and probably read too many celebrity self-help books, but hey-ho), and with all that lovely stuff that is part of our busy life I go to bed each night knackered but happy.

Happy, apart from I don’t see my friends enough AND I MISS THEM. That means you, Amy. And Bryony. And Lizzi. And Steph. Don’t forget about me!

You can console yourself with the fact I have six half-finished blog posts sitting in drafts currently. You have to look forward to gems such as: “DATING TIPS FROM SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T HAVE A CLUE!”, “HOW TO BE A PARENT”, “WHY I AM NOW A FEMINIST” and “OH GOD NOT FROZEN AGAIN”. One of these posts does not exist, but is a phrase I utter on the regular… I will let you decide which.

One of my biggest problems currently is that I have started reading again. Books by women I admire and aspire to be like when I grow up – Bryony Gordon’s The Wrong Knickers, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and Sali Hughes’s Pretty Honest (also: Graham Norton’s The Life And Loves Of A He Devil). The issue with reading such fantastic aspirational stories is that they leave me a bit stunted creativity-wise. Like if I am writing I MUST make myself as interesting as I can like my new found heroes. Which is about when I crumble under the pressure, make myself another cup of tea and turn to Netflix.

Told you, ROCK N ROLL down in here.

Anyway, after a quick jaunt to the glorious Boden press show today and some time with one of my favourite bloggers I do feel a little bit rejuvenated and ready to tackle more writing. I love my blog so much, I just need to grab my snatches of inspiration when I’m not so tired.

In 2017, maybe? Wait for me, readers!

This weekend I’m heading over to Mumsnet Blogfest to speak on a panel about monetising your blog and am looking forward to catching up with my buddies in the Blogging world – do come and have a listen if you’re there!

 

 

 

 

How To Have It All

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 21.13.02

For the longest time I believed that ‘having it all’ revolved around ‘what the outside world thinks you have’. I thought it meant how big your house was, how new your car was, what your husband did, how well behaved your kids were, what clothes you wore.

And it wasn’t until I found myself at actual rock-bottom, as a single parent with no reliable income and zero husbands, that I realised how wrong I was. Having it all is absolutely nothing to do with what you have and is absolutely everything to do with who you are.

Here’s the thing as I see it: we have an insane amount of outside influences in our lives. Blogs, media, friends, co-workers. And it’s so easy to look at all these influences attaining society’s idea of success and think, well, this is what it means to be have it all, isn’t it? And so we strive for these things that we see as measures of success and happiness with little or no knowledge of whether or not it’s going to make us happy.

We go from thinking we have to have THE CAREER (check) to THE KIDS (check) to THE HOUSE (check) to THE CAR AND THE CLOTHES AND THE HANDBAGS AND THE RESTAURANTS… and it’s exhausting. Keeping up with the Joneses becomes a full-time job and actually, who says that having all that stuff will really make you happy?

I used to be one of those people. I was so desperate for the world to see that I was living out someone else’s idea of perfection that I totally lost my way. I didn’t understand how I wasn’t happy when, to an outsider looking in, I had everything you could ever want. The big house (cripplingly expensive), the lovely children (ok, they really are lovely), the car, the opportunity to be a stay at home mum, the nights in fancy restaurants, the nice handbags. For a while I really did have it all, except I didn’t.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 21.12.42

Where I went wrong is that I didn’t understand that my version of ‘having it all’ might be different to the media’s, to what is generally accepted as being a life that you strive for. Even though I woke up on Monday morning with a whole week of nothing but being a mum ahead of me – a situation so many women dream of – I was drowning. There was nothing more daunting to me than working out how on earth I could fill five days with toddler groups, coffees, nap times and educational play (still not sure what this entails). As much as I wanted to be I just couldn’t make myself one of those (incredible, admirable) women who was a happy full-time mum.

To them I say: wow. Being a full-time mum, it really is the hardest job in the world.

It wasn’t until now that I realised the meaning of ‘having it all’. Yet there’s never been a time in my life when so many outsiders looking in have said to me, hey Alice, I don’t know how you do it.

But you know how I do it? I do it because this is my having it all. It turns out that my version of having it all is getting up in the morning and spending a couple of hours with my children (we had chocolate pancakes this morning!) before taking them to places I know they will be educated, well-looked after and loved. My having it all is spending 9 hours a day running a team, working my business mind, accomplishing professional goals. My having it all is earning good money so I can build my little family a really great life and maybe get my hair or nails done once in a while and feeling happy that I’ve worked to deserve it. My having it all is coming home after a busy day to cuddles with my two little people on the sofa and eating the weekend’s leftovers for supper, knowing I’ve given my all to the day.

I don’t have a husband to support me, a huge big house or a no-pressure open-ended maternity leave. But THAT’S OK, because all those things didn’t make me happy, anyway. Looking back I can say that now, though life has never been so challenging, I really do have it all. And it is such a relief to have finally discovered what that means.

 

 

A Catch-Up Mind Dump. You’re Welcome.

The thing about sharing your life a couple of times a week through your computer is that if something happens and you’re unable to do it for a while it just becomes harder and harder to get back on to it. Your list of ‘things I want to tell that bunch of virtual strangers’ becomes almost insurmountable as you try to prioritise exactly which recent life event you want to broadcast first. Cos I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for the next update… ;)

You can blame my radio silence on EE for thoroughly ballsing up the transfer of my broadband service to them (four and a half weeks I’ve been without my lifeline, FOUR AND A HALF WEEKS), my new job for being amazing but for making me so tired I have no words left in my head come 7pm and the children for being children and demanding things like food and attention from me, the little life suckers.

Shall we do a quick life update so I can pick up where I left off? Yes, let’s.

10693710_1521455631435084_1147135403_n

So the work is great, and even though I’m doing five days a week I’m no more tired/stressed/mental than when I was working four. I don’t miss the commute into London but still get to go in to the big city a couple of times a week so it’s all-round perfect, really. The environment of the ad agency is just wonderful – full of creative and inspirational people – and I genuinely look forward to going to work every day. I get to drop the kids off at school and there’s nothing like knowing I’m only down the road from them. Oh, and FREE BREAKFAST. I basically have it all. Along with a new addiction to coffee.

10724639_921284594609274_757475578_n

Elfie is loving school, loving it. Every day (usually when I’m tottering up the driveway to her classroom clutching book bags and water bottles 5 mins late as per) I feel thankful for choosing such a wonderful place for her to learn. She’s becoming a very opinionated assertive little thing (definite future CEO) and I’d say Reception Year is doing a great job of bringing out the best in her.

Hux is Hux and is adorable. He’s a little monkey, obsessed with his Woody toy and any time he has an item of new clothing (“MUMMY BUY NEW JUMPER FROM THE SHOP!! NEW DINOSAUR PANTS!!” repeat ad infinitum). In a nutshell they are the perfect children, the odd tantrum in Waitrose excluded (thanks Hux, that was well embarrassing).

10666056_334954670010095_294081620_n

It’s most definitely not summer anymore. I’m pretty crushed about that. I’ve been putting the colder weather to good use though and have been to IKEA twice. And I bought a Christmas present!! In October!!

I was dating someone and then I wasn’t. Joined Tinder for 24 hours for the self-esteem boost and got thoroughly depressed at the state of people on Tinder. Swore off relationships for a while to focus on work and writing but as you may have noticed I haven’t been writing, so make of that what you will… ;) I tell you what though, whoever said that the best things happen when you aren’t looking for them was absolutely right.

10665557_1544547222427620_762032506_n

This winter I really want to get more done, you know? Better myself a little – do things I’m proud of. Cook more, read more, drink less, work hard, save up, enjoy my friends, laugh a lot. 2012 was tough, 2013 was better, 2014 has been a vast improvement and I’m SO. EXCITED for what’s in store; everyone in my house is happy and we all have so much to look forward to. I’ve been feeling like I should do something to mark it, like get a tattoo, but because I’m terrified of tattoos I’ll probably just buy a new pair of shoes and write about it. LIVING THE DREAM.

Let’s not leave it so long next time, eh? I have so much I want to write about – becoming a feminist (yeah, I think that happened…), getting back into the workplace as a mum, these great new mugs I bought, my new utility cupboard, solo parenting 2 years in, my new role models (Sheryl Sandberg! Bryony Gordon! Lena Dunham! Girl Power!). Oh what did I say? Yeah, living the dream.

Stoptober/October

1914904_269836335205_5524881_n

It’s October!

I literally have no idea that happened, I’m certain three minutes ago it was May and I was making sandwiches and Pimms to celebrate Hux’s second birthday. But October it is, and with the Autumn season (SUMMER COME BACK!) arrives an important message:

If you’re a smoker, why not think about quitting? 

When the smoking ban first came in all those years ago it was pretty cool. Can you remember a time when smoking was allowed in bars? In clubs? IN CINEMAS? I can, and it’s so nice to get home after a night out (I do go out. Sometimes) and not need to wash my clothes and hair immediately. It makes me happy to think how many people will have given up smoking because of the ban (including lots of lovely friends of mine) and I’m excited that Stoptober might encourage more people to do the same.

It can give you cancer, it makes you smell, it stains your teeth, blah blah blah. We all know this. So I’m going to turn it over to an expert, Boots Pharmacist Angela Chalmers, to give some advice on how you can cut the habit once and for all. And if you’re serious about this do take a look at the Boots website where they have some absolutely brilliant advice:

Tip 1: Quit your own way

When you begin your smoke free journey, it is important that you know your smoking habits and chose a time to quit that is right for you. Many people find that starting their quit journey on a Wednesday is easier than starting on a Monday. Luckily the first day of Stoptober fell on a Wednesday this year!

If quitting on the first day of Stoptober is not right for you, then choose a time or day in the first week that best suits your lifestyle. If you tend to be a social smoker, then choose a time to quit that doesn’t clash with a social gathering – for example quitting a day before your best friend’s big birthday or a close family celebration might not be the best time for you! Remember that Boots pharmacists are available to provide advice and support at any time and stage of your smoke free journey.

Tip 2: Know your smoking triggers

Breaking a smoking habit is difficult as it’s often a part of your daily routine and something you may tend to do without even thinking about it. However, more often than not there are factors that can trigger these habits or make you want to smoke. For some people it goes hand in hand with a night out, for others it may be part of their morning coffee routine. It is important to know what your triggers are so you can put a strong plan of action in place to help you avoid them while you are on your smoke free journey.

Replacing your triggers with a different healthy habit can also help. For example, if you usually smoke after meals then maybe think about replacing that cigarette with a brisk walk to the end of your road or drinking a glass of water. Many people worry about weight gain as they often confuse their cravings for hunger and increase their food and snack intake. If you’re worried about weight gain talk to a stop smoking advisor who can give you tips on eating right and exercising so that weight gain is minimal.

Things that could help:
• Drink an extra glass of water after meals to keep you feeling full
• Snack on as many fruits and veggies as you want – something crunchy like baby carrots or an apple, can sometimes be very satisfying
• Keep your hands busy with something besides food!

Tip 3: Swap smoking for a new hobby

It is normal to get a little irritable when you quit smoking. Why not distract yourself by taking up a new hobby such as learning a new language, trying a new recipe or playing sport? By keeping yourself busy you are more likely to reach your smoke free goal as well as learning something new. Or you could simply get round to doing something you’ve been meaning to do for a while – clearing out your wardrobe, putting up a new shelf, even cleaning the windows?! Creating a list of all the things you want to do and then ticking something off that list (even the smallest thing) can you give you a great sense of achievement!

It’s also important to think positively (it’s easier said than done, we know!). However, rather than seeing quitting smoking as giving up something you love, taking up a new hobby or activity can help you to associate it with a new fresh start and a much more positive way of thinking that will help you to stay motivated.

Tip 4: Don’t give up giving up

Many smokers try on more than one occasion to give up cigarettes. If you have a smoking relapse, try not to be disheartened. Instead, examine what caused you to smoke again, so that you can look out for the signs and find a way to overcome this on your next attempt. Remember that giving up smoking is not easy and celebrate each day that you remain smoke free. Sometimes a visual tracker can help. Why not buy a wall planner or calendar on which you can cross off each smoke free day so you can see how well you are doing and increase your confidence in yourself?

Tip 5: Reward yourself

Don’t be too hard on yourself! Giving up smoking is a huge challenge and each day that you stay smoke free is an achievement – something many people strive to achieve. In fact, 61% of smokers say quitting smoking is one of their lifetime’s ambitions so make sure your celebrate, perhaps by setting yourself small targets and treating yourself when you reach them.

Remember – one of the best benefits of stopping smoking (aside of course from the health improvements) is all of the money you will save! Use this to reward yourself with a treat or something fun. This could be a pampering new make-over to show of how great you look now that you are smoke free, a new wardrobe or even a weekend trip away.

Will you be giving up this October? I hope so! There’s a Twitter Party taking place on 16th October between 12-1pm to encourage you all :) Stay tuned for more details!

Thank you very much to Boots/Stoptober for sponsoring More Than Toast