This is just a quick Me & Mine as I shouldn’t really be near the laptop.  We are all loving being on holiday and although the weather has been a bit hit and miss and I’m not sure I would advocate setting off on holiday the same day as school finishes, we’ve had a great time so far and I really wish that we could slow time down so that we didn’t seem to be edging so close to the end of our time together here.

As you might expect we have taken many, many photos but here is just one of us altogether, enjoying our family holiday.

dear beautiful

I am so excited that in a couple of hours I will be merrily sailing across the Channel on my way to the South of France.  If you follow me at all on social media, or regularly read this blog then you will know I have been harping on forever about this holiday and it’s about more than just the sheer joy of knowing I will have nothing more complex to do than lie by the pool and read a book.

We first went to the Dordogne a couple of years ago and it was where I was inspired to start writing my first novel, Secrets of the River.  There was a particular commune (or as I like to think of it, village) called Brantome which ended up being the place the book was set.

I am really excited to be back there and although we aren’t staying in Brantome itself this time, we have set aside a day or two to travel over so I can capture and share some of the places which feature in the book and perhaps get some further inspiration for a sequel which I know some people have been asking for.

This is me in 2013, being inspired…

Perhaps I will see it all through different eyes now that SOTR is based there or perhaps it will be just the same.  I really have no clue but I am hoping that it will, for the most part, remain unchanged.

If you’ve read the book you will get the relevance of a random man fishing in the river and if you haven’t then you now have no excuse as to honour the fact that I will be in Brantome within the week, Secrets of the River will be just 99p from today until Tuesday and then will be £1.99 for the duration of the holiday.  I would love to see people downloading and perhaps hopping over to Instagram which is where I will be sharing most of my photos from the trip (I’m not 100% certain about internet access but I am hoping to share photos on here too if you don’t have an IG account)

As ever if you do read the book I would appreciate it if you could leave me a review on Amazon and tell your friends and thank you to all those who have supported me so far.  I really appreciate it!

But for now…I’m headed back to Brantome.

This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon.


Writer’s block gets us all at some point, whether we can’t find that word we are searching for or just have no inclination to sit down and scribble our thoughts for the day.

I know that my goal for this month was to perfect my synopsis so I could send it out to agents in September…have I done this?  Have I heck!  I am finding it particularly challenging and so I have just put it to one side.  The trouble is that because I know I’m supposed to be writing my synopsis I don’t feel like working on my current manuscript either.  

When writer’s block sets in there are loads of ways you can try to help beat it.  I recently wrote about how to spend quality time with yourself when you work from home and that can be a really important way of dealing with a dead end; spend some time away from your desk with just yourself and you might find everything begins to flow again.

Of course, there are some other tried and tested ways of boosting your creative thought and getting those writing juices flowing again:-

Get outside
Whether it’s just a brisk walk around the block, a jog around the park or a three hour trek through the nearby forest, being outside in the fresh air and not thinking about writing is my favourite way of rejuvenating my brain.  Not only does the physical exercise stop me from panicking about how much I’m not getting done but I also come back with plenty of endorphins whizzing round my system which can help with feelings of positivity and happiness.

Write badly
Another thing I have learned over time is that sometimes just writing something is better than writing nothing.  I certainly discovered this when I was trying to get to the end of writing Secrets of the River and I forced myself to sit each day and come up with 1,000 words.  Often I would read back over them the next day and think ‘huh?’ with huge sections getting scratched out but other days I would be so inspired that I would write well over the 1,000 words.  If you are working to a deadline, be prepared to write out anything that comes to mind.  You can always come back and refine it later or if things are really bad then there are plenty of professional writing service companies who can tweak things into shape for you.

Write something else
I know this doesn’t always work if you are working to a deadline and feeling the pressure but sometimes walking away from your current project and writing something totally different can be a great way to unlocking new thoughts and ideas.  I know when I am drowning in my freelance work and writing that 100th article about London it can be really hard to come up with new and dynamic material.  Stepping away and creating something else, either a poem or a creative piece of writing, is sometimes so helpful in refreshing and regenerating my ideas.

Rejig your working space
It is so important to have a proper working space when you are writing.  Overflowing piles of paper, being surrounded by mess and chaos or trying to work on your knee in a busy coffee shop can all detract from what you are trying to accomplish.  Set some time aside to make yourself a real, practical and comfortable working space.

Stay positive
When you are stressed you tend to freeze up so worrying about your writer’s block is the number one way to ensure that it hangs around.  Try not to get stressed out and instead focus on the reasons you started writing in the first place; what was it that you loved?  What are your favourite pieces that you’ve written?  Perhaps go over some original work and be reminded of what made you start scribbling in the first place.  Once you keep in mind the reason why you love writing it might make the process easier.


I feel like I’ve been writing a lot of reviews on the blog recently, in trying to get everything out of the way before the summer holidays it has all arrived at once but this review is one I have really been excited about writing and sharing with you all.

For the past 6 months or so we have been reviewing a Young Living Essential Oils Premium Starter Kit. I had been interested in essential oils for a while; after I got ill over Christmas I began looking into ‘alternative’ options and this was something which came up a lot.

Please bear in mind that as you read this review I am not a trained doctor, nurse or medical professional, just one individual giving her own personal experience on how we have found essential oils.

So, a lovely lady I know called Lucy uses Young Living’s Essential Oils and she asked whether we would like to review a starter kit. Of course I was curious after reading so much about it online and jumped at the chance. In the spirit of being honest, James was completely dubious about the entire thing and thought that it would mostly be ‘in my head’.

The Premium Starter Kit contains everything you need to enter into the world of using essential oils bar one element: a carrier oil. I chose to buy some jojoba oil (from Amazon) initially but after discovering I was allergic to it…only after I’d put it all over my hands…we switched to coconut oil which has worked much better!

The Essential Oils Collection which is included has the following oils:-

*Peace & Calming®

You do get some other oils and products included in the kit as well which you can see if you follow the link but I will stick with these oils for now otherwise this review will get very long!

I have to admit that I felt a little overwhelmed when I received the kit initially; there is so much stuff and so much to read and I really wanted to understand and grasp what the oils could be used for…it took me about a week to read the booklet which was sent (I don’t like to do things by halves) but eventually I decided to just start out by using the Dewdrop Diffuser which is included in the kit.

You select the oils you want to use, add about 6-8 drops, turn it on and away you go. There are a number of wonderful Facebook groups in operation where you can see recommendations for combinations which work well together or you can just use trial and error.

Round One
My first thought was to use Peace & Calming® on the kids at bedtime as this is supposed to be great for helping you to wind down…but it actually had the total opposite effect on Eli and he ended up bouncing off the walls. This forced me to reconsider…would the oils actually work? A bit more research later and I began to appreciate that oils have different effects on different people; what works for one may not work for another and so on.

Round Two
With James’ words ringing in my ears I decided to try again; this time on myself. I set the diffuser going before bed with some drops of lavender. I sat in the room and read for a while and then nodded off. I felt confident that it had worked but James said he had slept the same as always.

Round Three
Lavender is the bees knees of the oil world. It can be used for so much so when, the following day, James burnt his finger and went to the cupboard I blocked his way. Wouldn’t it be a real test of the oils, I reasoned, to try the lavender on his burn? Begrudgingly he agreed and we diligently applied lavender oil for the next few days watching as his burn healed well and disappeared. Now, granted, if he had used a store bought product his burn would probably have healed as well but the point is about using what is a naturally resourced substance and not a factory produced one. A win for the oils!

Round Four
Thieves® is the go-to oil when there are germs about so the next time the kids started sounding snuffly, I mixed some with some coconut oil and applied it to their lower backs as well as diffusing some Thieves® with Frankincense in the dewdrop diffuser. I did this a couple of times a day and whenever I could persuade Eli that I wasn’t doing something strange to him (he was most definitely on his Daddy’s side throughout). We definitely noticed a difference. What seemed like it would escalate into a full blown virus just dissipated over a couple of days. Another win!

Round Five
I knew oils were becoming accepted into our every day when I had a particular negative day, for one reason and another it had been stressful and anxiety-filled and I told James I was going into the bath to try and unwind. He said he would get it ready for me and when I came up he was flicking through the oils booklet trying to find a good combination to diffuse.

Throughout the above experiences I had also been diffusing oils on a daily basis. I tried all sorts of combinations and really mixed it up to try and find my own personal preferences. I love Joy and Lavender when I am feeling stressed or anxious, Valor when I was working and needed to boost my concentration, Lemon when I was cleaning and wanted to freshen the rooms…you get the idea.

It is now part of our bedtime routine with Meg and Eli to apply Lavender and coconut oil to the bottoms of their feet (we finally convinced Eli that the oils were okay and he believe the Lavender helps him rest well so he can run fast…!), we are diffusing on a regular basis and try to turn to the oils as an initial go-to. Just this morning I applied Peppermint for a migraine I feel building…

Overall thoughts:-

* I am loving using the oils and I don’t think we have even scratched the surface of what the oils can be used for in our home. However, we are slowly trying to learn and understand more as I really believe they have something to offer.

* I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone the difference that oils can make; and am happy to point anyone with a genuine interest in the right direction. I have found that some oils work better for us than others and it has been a case of trying and adjusting to see what works and what doesn’t which can be quite time-consuming but I would definitely say it is beginning to pay off.

* It is also worth mentioning the cost element. On the surface, the oils can seem quite expensive, particularly the Starter Kit, but they last. You are using small drops of the oils each time and apart from Lavender we still have the majority of our initial oils left although we have been slow to use them as we wanted to try each one fully.

Have I sparked your interest?  If I have, you can sign up and try out the oils for yourself by following the instructions below.  

* Click here to go to the member sign-up page
* Select Retail Customer or Wholesale Member (wholesale member is the best option as you receive 24% off all purchases. You NEVER have to sell anything. There are no monthly minimums or requirements, you may just purchase the starter kit and enjoy the benefits of wholesale pricing for yourself!)
* Select your country and language
* Fill in your personal information and check the Terms & Conditions
* Select a Starter Kit (optional) – The Premium Starter kit is recommended and the best value saving you £120 compared to buying the products individually at retail price.
* You may now add any additional products to your order OR if you didn’t choose the starter kit, add any products you wish to purchase to your cart and checkout.
* All done, get excited for your oils to arrive and welcome to the family !
(If you purchase the Premium Starter Kit you will also be invited to join our private facebook group ‘Essential Families’ for support and ongoing education AND a Reference Guide App – FREE !)

Additionally, the lovely Lucy (as mentioned above) has offered a 5ml bottle of Stress Away to giveaway so you can try it out for yourself and see.  I use Stress Away a lot and it is an essential oil blend which combines vanilla, lime, ocotea and other calming botanicals.  It is ideal for helping to reduce anxiety or tension.
To enter just visit the Young Living website then leave me a comment below saying which oil or oil blend you think would be most beneficial to you or your family.  The giveaway will end on 31st August and I will randomly select a winner from those who have entered.

If you are interested in learning more then please just drop me an email or sign up to this helpful Facebook class where you can ask all the questions you want. I will be away for a couple of weeks but I will try and get back to you asap!

I know this post has been long but honestly, it is worth the effort.  We are loving the oils and would really recommend them for anyone who wants to bring a more natural element into their daily lives.  I don’t even know that I’ve done them justice but I wanted to give you our honest experience and not just the hard-sell!



Both James and I learned to drive quite late on, in comparison to our friends at least.  I was just shy of my 22nd birthday and about 8 months pregnant.  Although obviously I can drive, to this day I am convinced that I passed my test because the instructor was more concerned about my knowledge of where the local hospital was rather than my understanding of the car I was driving!

Of course, having only been driving for *cough* 6 years, I don’t know whether that means we have more new driver disaster stories than anyone else just because they feel more recent or because we actually cover a lot of miles in the course of the year…

Regardless, the tale about the time I drove my Dad’s BMW through the front of our porch was just a teaser…and is actually a rather convoluted story which involves friends, wheelie bins, being 15 and not knowing that my Dad liked to leave his car in gear…or maybe I should say it was a good indication of what was to come!

Other fun car times include:-

* the time I drove my first car home; a beautiful, new shiny red specimen, feeling very pleased with myself when I navigated through our narrow driveway posts and up the slope, hopping out of the car only to watch it roll away again as I’d forgotten to put the handbrake on.

Not my actual car….

* the time when it was snowing and I was trying to park my (new to me) second car and actually drove it straight into a post which was covered up with snow.  At least, that’s my defence and I’m sticking to it!

* the time I drove with my fog lights on and couldn’t understand why I was continually being flashed by other drivers…

* the time I thought I was driving on a two lane one way street and was merrily driving on the right hand side of the road.  It wasn’t a one way street.

Perhaps I shouldn’t share so much…I am a good driver, honestly!!

I remember when I was learning to drive and my instructor told me that learning to pass your test and learning to drive are actually two very different things and I never knew what he meant until I was on the road alone.  It can be terrifying and exciting all at once and I’m sure I am not alone in having odd moments of panic when I initially passed over forgetting how to put the car in gear or what button I needed to press etc.

It can seem daunting to firstly pass your theory and practical tests, then to line up getting a suitable new car and sort the insurance which, for young and new drivers can often be high (I think I am beginning to see why…) but the freedom which comes from being independent and self-sufficient is just amazing.  

And I am certainly more of a responsible driver than I was 6 years ago when the majority of these incidents took place.  I promise!  It’s one of the reasons though that I think it’s important to just get out and about driving as much as you possibly can when you first pass, to imbed the knowledge and give you time to bump the kerb when pulling up or cover two spaces when you think you’ve just executed a world-class reverse parking manoeuvre whilst you are still young!

Anyone else?

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.