Male mental health by me a woman…..

Recently I used Instagram stories to ask the people that follow me what they would like me to write about. I sometimes find myself stuck in a blog type rut and I thought that would be a really good way of giving me some inspiration. Interestingly one of the most suggested topics was male mental health.

Now I’m obviously missing one of the most essential things you need to be a male (I am, promise!) and therefore a male perspective of mental health is not something I can easily give. However I keep coming back to the topic and thought about how it should be one I tackle. I may be a woman but I am raising boys. I would be very naive if I didn’t realise that at some point I would have to tackle how mental health effects men in my role as a wife and mother. On reflection this has already started. As a girl who grew up with a sister, went to an all girls school and whose Dad often worked away for long periods of time I was massively lacking knowledge in the world of all things male. Having had boys and watching them grow I now realise that many of the issues I used to think were female specific are in fact affecting both genders.

My sons who are seven and nine are already dealing with pressures that life and in particularly school throw at them. Not having the right trainers, not being allowed a mobile phone (at this age!) not having the right haircut, not playing the right video games and the list goes on and on. I have seen the anguish in their faces when we discuss these topics and I see clearly that to them these pressures cause considerable worry when trying to please their peers and not be made fun of. The funny thing is of course that most of us as grown ups have learned the lesson that being who we are is how we become the most beautiful version of ourselves and that one persons cool is another persons embarrassment. Take me and my flowers for example. I’ve mentioned before I’m often mocked because I love flowers and would happily spend hours arranging them but to me watching a football match would be an absolute bore.

Trying to get two little people trying to find their way in a fast paced world where everyone seems to grow up faster by the year though is of course tough and we try and toss up what is important to them alongside doing our best to encourage their own unique personalities. I can see from this young age why mental health issues such as anxiety play such a big part in so many male lives. To be so very concerned about all these things from such a young age is a huge burden to bear. I have always been honest with the boys about my own issues and as such I think we are a very aware family about mental health and the many ways it can effect us. The boys are both used to talking about how they feel and they know that if there is an issue it’s really important to find a way to express it as it allows them to look at the problem in a different way and not be consumed by it. We are far from perfect but I’m so very aware that I don’t want the boys to have the crippling issues I’ve had to deal with all my adult life and if I can help in anyway to give them some tools to deal with whatever issues arise I will.

When you look at the statistics surrounding men and mental health it’s quite staggering. Male suicide figures show that many more men commit suicide than women and it’s the same across the whole world. There are news stories often about young men in particular who have taken their own lives for many different reasons. I can’t describe the sadness I feel when read about and think about this. Why is it seen as more acceptable for a woman to seek help, to talk about her issues or to say openly ‘I suffer with my mental health’? I don’t know the answer to the question, whatever it is it’s wrong. Men and women who are so equal in so many ways now (I appreciate there are still some differences but I’m not here to discuss gender pay gaps etc) should both be able to seek help for their mental health in the same way for whatever reason they need to without fear of judgement or being seen as any less manly.

The idea that boys have to be tough and not have feelings is something that has been turned on it’s head in many societies however I understand and see that there is still a huge pressure in this area. It must be a huge conflict for a man who is suffering if he feels he always has to be strong and can’t show weakness. I can only look at my own journey here and mention my own experiences which is that by admitting and dealing with my demons not only am I stronger but I realise how just how brave I can be. You have to start though and as so many of us know that very first step is often the hardest and loneliest one we will ever take.

The boys have always loved the music of Avicii, as have I and this is where they get it from. I remember them singing along in the car as toddlers to his song ‘wake me up’ and there aren’t many days that go by where we don’t listen to his music. For those who don’t know who he is Avicii was a Swedish musician who mostly made dance music. His real name was Tim Bergling and he was born in 1989 six years after me. He had phenomenal success with his music which although is based on dance covered many genres making it all the more popular. I remember years ago reading a piece about his extreme social anxiety and how he found it so hard performing at concerts as he focussed on how it could all go wrong and couldn’t cope. He self medicated with alcohol and got to a point where he had made himself so ill he was hospitalised. In 2016 he stopped touring after an addiction to prescription painkillers and him realising he needed to make changes in his life.

It’s hard to imagine someone at the peak of a successful career suffering so massively with their mental health. Being rich, famous and successful are things that many ‘normal’ people can only wish for. But this is what I have often said here mental health doesn’t discriminate. It touches on the lives of everyone from everywhere and no one can be safe in the knowledge that they will never experience in some way because most of us do. Two years after quitting touring Avicii took his own life. Clearly still in great anguish and unable to escape his demons. The first anniversary of his death is tomorrow the 20th of April, he was 28. I was so very sad when I heard he had died and although they didn’t release the cause of his death straight away I knew what it would be.

The boys and I have had many conversation over the last year about his death. At first I wasn’t sure whether to be honest with them as it’s such a hard hitting subject for a small person but Karl and I discussed it and decided it would be okay to tell them about this huge issue. We have been delicate but the boys know that their favourite pop star felt that he couldn’t continue. We discuss how sad it was that he felt he had no where else to go and places that can help you if you feel that you have no where else to turn. They have asked me questions about whether I have had such thoughts before and what kinds of places where we live can help. They have both spoken numerous times about how hard it is to understand as Avicii was so cool and made ‘the best’ music. It’s been a learning curve for them that sometimes you can have all the cool stuff, be popular and liked but still not be happy. It’s opened dialogue about being who you are and that life is hard no matter what but an awful lot harder if you are trying to please everyone else the whole time. We have also had to cover that some people no matter what aren’t kind and no matter what you do you will never please them!

I have no idea if this is what the people who suggested I write about male mental health had in mind and I’m worried I’ve come no where near doing the job justice but I hope that if you’ve got this far you’ve taken something away from this blog post. If nothing else please listen to some of Avicii’s music and the beautiful words he wrote. There are some amazing places you can look to for help if you are suffering now. You don’t have to feel alone or that there is no where else to turn. You can contact The Samaritans here and the Rethink Mental Illness site here has lots of resources also.

Thanks for reading xxx

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Another year in review…… how old am I?!

So…….. we are in that in between Christmas and new year bit for another year. I’m not quite sure how we have got here. I’m quite sure I told this year at the beginning that it wasn’t to fly by like 2017 did and that I needed some time to savour it all.

Apparently I am not in charge of the universe and am sat writing this post in a funny Christmas haze where I’m not sure exactly what the day is and I’m quite sure I don’t need to eat anything for another month at the very least.

I wrote an Instagram post about how I get so full of ideas, hopes and inspirations for the new year that I then get overwhelmed and end up just wanting to sleep and push a massive pause button (if anyone sees one please push it for me!) I’m not sure if this happens to others or whether it’s a part of me with my mental health struggles and whether it makes any sense to others at all. To be a person with low self esteem it can be really hard to make positive changes become effective as you manage to talk yourself out of them before you begin. It’s like a bizarre cycle of having great ideas, writing them down, getting excited about them, telling others who get excited for you and then saying ‘actually no, I’m too useless to do that’ and it all being forgotten. I am much better with this than I used to be but some of my inner critic still plays a massive part in my thought processes at this time of year.

2018 as years go was actually quite a good one. There were some big changes and lots of upheaval but all to good ends. We had our extension built and made our home suit us. We lived through and survived the building works without killing each other and have come to appreciate our home so much more. I have written more about mental health which for me has been a big thing. Not just because of the massive stigma that is still attached to having MH issues but also because laying yourself bare is hard. Reflecting on thoughts and feelings that hurt you or are painful is a difficult process however one which I realise for me is key. I often return to previous things I have written and acknowledge that I have made progress, been able to identify triggers have been able to smile on reflection.

This year I had an idea, an idea which started as a tiny thought in the back of my mind which was watered and eventually after my negative thoughts telling me I couldn’t do it ended up with me telling others and organising my first ‘Talking about Mental Health’ session in January. Since making the event public and the numbers of people confirmed to be attending has gone up I’ve spent a fair amount of time telling myself I’m ridiculous, that how dare someone like me think that I could help anyone and who the fuck am I to think that people might want to listen to me talk about mental health and small ways to cope with it. I’ve written emails out asking to cancel it ( and not sent them) and made numerous excuses in my head as to why it will never work. However I’m not doing that. I’m going to go and talk even if it’s just to my Mum (she is definitely coming!) and I’m going to keep talking. I will talk about mental health wherever anyone will have me. I will write about it, I will spread awareness of it and I will help people. Because my voice is worthy of being heard, my experiences real and I think I can offer something to others.

I would say that this year has become one of awareness for me. I took more time to maintain and improve my mental health because it is a necessity for me. I came off my antidepressants because of the side effects they were having. I made a conscious decision here that I needed to make a change and approached it with an open mind as to whether I would go onto others or not. I wasn’t going to give myself a hard time either way as I believe that if you need them antidepressants are amazing. As I type though I am currently not taking any. I have lots of thoughts about this as I have found the whole process very hard. It was physically and mentally exhausting and has meant I now have to increase my small measures to keep my depression and anxiety in check. If I need to go back on a different kind of antidepressant I will but for now I am on a journey with myself and it feels good to be learning more about me and what my mind needs.

My boys have grown in height and personality. They have been massively challenging and this year has been a tough one for Karl and I as parents. I am blessed and I know that to have children is a privilege denied to many and I take my responsibilities as a parent very seriously. This doesn’t mean though that I am very good at it or that I have any of the answers. I am from a family of mostly girls. I don’t get boys and I often feel sad that lots of their interests we don’t share. I go along with them of course but it’s hard to know that they would always rather talk about cars or minecraft than listen to me talk about some of the things I am interested in. I do though when I look at the bigger picture realise that they are patient with me when I stop to take pictures of flowers or they walk in when I’m doing yoga on YouTube (you should see their faces!) they are also very good at helping with my Instagram pictures and show an interest in what I am doing even if they roll their eyes when I ask them to pose holding a candle!

Boys are tough when they are young so people keep telling me, they test boundaries, struggle with surging testosterone and finding their identity. With only a year age gap and both being keen spirited and strong it makes for interesting times and due to shift work and being on my own a lot it adds to some of the parenting fun but I love the boys more everyday and watching them grow is nothing short of an adventure.

As I do every year I learned a lot about myself in 2018 and grew to appreciate the people I love more and more. There are always hardships in any relationship but I honestly believe that if you can rely on the people you love no matter what you do, have done, your mood or how hard work you are then you have it made. Some of the hardest lessons I have learned is that not everyone will stay in the dark times and actually those people never loved you anyway. You become very wary of those kinds of people and you learn a lot from them (it may not feel like it at the time but it will all be good lessons) I hope that the people around me know that they in turn can rely on me in the same way and that I will fight for those I love when I need to. There simply isn’t time in the world for false friendships and toxic relationships and this I’ve learned over the last couple of years is something I am totally allowed to walk away from. We are all entitled to take things out of our lives that cause hurt or upset and we must never forget it.

I am excited for 2019, to build on the lessons from this year, to host more mental health talks, to become more aware of my own mental health and to help others to do the same. To spend time with the people I love, to smile more, to visit places I have never been and to have a better relationship with my own body. To be kind to me for once instead of filling myself with negative thoughts and to know it’s okay to not be okay all the time and to acknowledge that no one has a perfect life and if they say they do they are lying!

I’ve met some amazing people this last year and can’t wait to spend more time with new friends and meeting some new ones along the way.

I am so grateful to each and everyone of you who reads my blog, who takes the time to say hi, to click like, to follow me here or on my social media and who accept me for who I am. The glorious mess that I am and to not make me feel bad about it. I hope you continue to read in the coming year and that you know how much I appreciate you listening.

Here’s to 2019!

Christmas my way…….

I’m quite sure that I’m not the only one feeling the overwhelm and pressure that comes with the season. I’ve read and seen lots of blogs, Instagram posts and tweets about how to have a slow, simple Christmas and I feel a bit like that comes with its own kind of stress.

It sounds mad doesn’t it that someone like me gets anxious at the thought of a ‘normal’ hectic Christmas but then has the same anxieties about trying to keep things slow and simple and actually knackering myself out trying to slow things down.

I feel that the key for me is pressure. Lots of pressure. Pressure from all manner of different places on how I should conduct my Christmas when actually I need to work out what kind of Christmas I want for me and my family and just go with that.

Like many others I’m all for shopping local (in fact this year I have done most of my shopping from small, independent businesses) however I’m also acutely aware that the vast majority of small, independent shops don’t want my children to break their stock if I dragged them shopping with me. I have to prioritise my time and I don’t want them to feel the pressure I am so we don’t tend to shop at weekends and just spend time doing other things (wrestling and discussing minecraft if the boys have their way)

My point is I have massively good intentions but as a mother I have to plan the season in the way that I feel is best for my family. I simply can’t spend as much time as I would like on things such as making presents or elaborate present wrapping. I will do my best but by the time the boys go to bed and I’ve tidied up I want to collapse in a heap. Often that’s all I do!

It feels almost selfish to put it all to one side and go to bed but I am in such a space of knowing if I overload much more all of the bits will come falling down around me (imagine giant Jenga) and I will end up in a mess that will last well into the new year.

I know I cannot have a totally slow and simple Christmas because that’s not my life. We work shifts, we pass like ships in the night and we have to make the most of every minute together as a family. I have to cram some things in otherwise one of us would miss something and I would rather rush around like a loon and know that I will get to see the boys school play as opposed to missing it. I also know that when I can taking the time to be more relaxed is vital. I need that time when I can lay under a blanket and just be for a bit without having to worry about making salt dough decorations or homemade mince pies.

If I were to sum up this blog post it would be like this. Christmas to me is about love. You do it however feels right for you and your family whether that be a family of friends, close relatives or just your own household. If you get to have a slow and simple Christmas that’s bloody amazing, if it’s a bit frantic and frazzling make some time for you where you can and know that the people around you will love you no matter how much you get done. If you have good intentions to be eco friendly or supporting of small business but haven’t been able to get a grip on this or get out to the high street then that’s okay too. A couple of small things will make a big difference. Ensuring you recycle over the festive period and perhaps ordering a couple of bits online from small businesses ticks those boxes.

We aren’t superhumans, we won’t always get it right nor though does that mean we are getting it wrong. We are doing the best we can with the tools we have and if anyone judges you for that then send them my way. You go through a hell of a lot in a year to be judged on how you decide to spend your time over the Christmas period and how you decide it works best for you.

To that end this year we are having lamb for Christmas dinner and on Boxing Day we are having steak and halloumi fries. We aren’t doing the elf on the shelf nor am I partaking in the Christmas advent calendar making competition at the boys school. I’ve lost no weight on the lead up to fit in my Christmas dress and people will have to lump it.

I am doing what’s right for me and that’s all any of us can do. I am excited for you however you decide to spend your festive season and I look forward to seeing pictures and hearing about it here. I realise this year I can be an anxious mess or I can say I can only do what I can do. I also know that my resolve will at some point soften and that I will need to remind myself of this blog post, my coping tools for times of need and the fact that just because I live with mental health issues it doesn’t mean they need to be any worse over Christmas and no one around me would want them to be.

On that note I’m off to pick the monsters up from school. Wishing you a fab week lovely people xxx

An October review…….

October is one of those months where I tend to have a bit of a review. My birthday is this month and I think as it approaches every year it makes me evaluate where I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved over the last year.

When I thought about it quickly I thought that this year hasn’t been one full of great things and huge achievements but then I thought again. This year I have focussed more on me than I have for a long time. I have had the at times uncomfortable realisations of who I am, what I’m about and what I need to let go of. I have dare I say it become more happy. I have allowed myself to be who I am in ways that I would have feared to in the past. Worries about being mocked or treated differently I haven’t allowed to plague my thoughts like I used to and I am for the first time in a long time  in a position where I can say that the people I have around me understand and embrace me for me no matter what. Not you Mum, you’ve been doing that for almost thirty five years now!

No matter what is a big statement. No matter what is in good times or bad, when I have had successes or failures. When I’ve made good decisions or hideously awful ones. There really is a huge amount of truth in the saying ‘find your tribe’ and when you do you need to hold on to those people with all you have.

I have talked about my mental health more this year and I feel with more authority. I am on a journey that evolves on a daily basis and it’s a journey that I am at peace with as opposed to fighting against. I have made the decision to come off my antidepressants and to take more control in other ways over my mental health. I have started small practices to help me on a daily basis that are becoming habits. I write down how I feel, I meditate, I read more and I am more realistic with myself.

I have put on about two stone and I’m currently wearing a size eighteen. This is a big thing for me to tell you but after all the peanut m&m’s and those yummy Ikea biscuits I am hardly surprised but for once in my life I am being kind to myself. I have realised that limiting myself is a way I used to self harm in the past and denying myself nice things as some strange way of punishing myself did nothing other than make me miserable. I have cut down on alcohol and started running again (slowly and with a very interesting style but still) I have realised that I am meant to have big boobs and they need to be comfortable so I’ve started buying my bras at Victoria’s secrets because they don’t only make sexy, tiny underwear but they make the most comfortable bras I have ever worn. They are expensive and I only buy them in the sale because that’s what I can afford to do but it feels good to be looking after myself and taking pride in doing so.

I see the beauty in having no plans, in living simply and taking each day as it comes. I love to see friends and walk around taking pictures even if it is somewhere we have taken a million pictures of before. I have realised I like yoga and just because I am not as bendy as most people doesn’t mean I can’t do a downward facing dog as well as the next person.

We have made a small house into a big house and have taken pride in doing so. It’s been a massive lesson for us as a family and a couple but it has bought us closer together and bought pure joy. I look forward to getting the garden finished and starting my flower garden and the thought of cutting flowers I have grown myself next year to display in my home brings a huge grin to my face.

I have realised that there are so many things in this life that are so much more important that I ever thought. Sitting with my parents over a cup of tea talking about the birds, seeing my boys play with their friends, listening to the boys read, eating cake with Karl, taking my mum out and treating her like she deserves to be treated and laughing with my friends. These things are priceless, these moments to be made memories that I can cherish forever.

I want to continue to write and talk about mental health. I want to help people, to give blood (once and counting) to explore more creative pursuits, to spend more time with the people I love and to see them go from strength to strength. I hope that when  I write this post next year it will be another year of little things that have added up to massive things when I will be meeting another year older as a welcome friend full of excitement and promise.

Thanks as always for reading, for listening, for being here and being you. You have no idea how much each and every one of you that has taken the time to email, comment on my social media, hit the like button and talk to me about my blog and writing have helped me this year. You are amazing and I hope you never forget it.

Lucy xxx

Good advice……

Sometimes I genuinely wonder why we as people are so good at giving advice and helping others and yet we absolutely can’t take on the advice we so freely give to others for ourselves.

We have all been there, a friend or loved one is low and down so we offer help, we do what we can to make them feel better and loved. Yes of course it sometimes doesn’t work but at least we know we have done what we can and if nothing else that person knows they have someone thinking of them or to call if they need to.

So why then are we so awful at doing it ourselves. Why does it feel self indulgent to sit on a Sunday afternoon when there is so much to do around the house watching a film with my little people. Why am I sat here making excuses in my head as to why I’m doing it as opposed to thinking that this time for me is well deserved and actually needed.

Many of you who follow me over on Instagram will have seen my stories over last weekend where I exposed my absolute pit of a house. We don’t always live like this. We have as you know had a massive building project going on and rooms had to be emptied so the builders could move in. So it made sense to make the house a bit like a massive jigsaw puzzle where we moved boxes and furniture around according to where the builder needed to go next.

This resulted in most rooms ending up piled high with possessions which were in desperate need of a sort through and when the builders finished we had to battle the building dust and various other things that come with new buildings such as dust and sand from the screed on the floor and couldn’t comprehend actually getting all the bits moved out. So for now the house is still very much a work in progress. Added to normal work and life in general we just aren’t getting the time we want to get it sorted as quickly as we would like to.

But after an exhausting week and getting up early to get some jobs done (which I did) I still feel bad sitting and chilling for a bit. I think life very much should be about being lived for now and not just focusing on what it will be like or what you want it to be like. I’m not for a second suggesting not to look to your dreams or have ambitions. Goodness no, I have so many dreams and hopes that I’m working towards and I will never lose sight of them BUT I’m conscious that if I get run over by a milk float tonight (yes it could happen) will I be sad about my house not being as tidy as I would like or the fact that I didn’t take the chance to sit and watch Hocus Pocus with my boys when that’s what they want me to do.

We cannot give ourselves a hard time for doing what is good for us. Whether that be downing tools and going for a walk, stopping to eat that bar of chocolate, sitting amongst chaos with people we love or any other thing that makes our souls happy. Life is about balance, we are about balance and we need it in our lives to be happy and at peace. Now I hear you laugh as you know that I am someone who is rarely at peace as I worry so much, criticise myself so much and drive myself a little mad with stress and anxiety however….. I am getting better. It takes massive amounts of time and effort but I am making headway and I know that I need to work on me everyday in order to continue making that progress for myself and my family.

So the next time you go to give help and advice to others I want you to ask yourself ‘have I done this lately for me?’ I would be very interested to know if you have!

Have a fab week, Lucy xxx

A trip to Warner Brothers Studios for a Harry Potter adventure

We like so many other families will happily call ourselves Potter fans. I have the joy of seeing the boys read, watch and love the Harry Potter books and films while I have memories of reading them myself.

I came to the books later than most but once I did in my teens I couldn’t put them down. I vividly remember reading the last book and spending the whole of the day it was delivered laying on the sofa reading it on a day off work. By the time I had finished I was in the total darkness as I hadn’t been able to tear myself away long enough to turn on the lights or shut the curtains.

Leo, my youngest son in particular is a total Potter head. He knows everything there is to know, he was writing out spells before he could write most ‘normal’ sentences. He uses spells in day to day life even today and spells such as ‘nox’ and ‘lumos’ are common place in our house.

You can imagine then that when I received an email last month from The Warner Brothers Studio Tour London – the making of Harry Potter inviting us along to a family bloggers event to explore the studios and their special Goblet of Fire features that I actually shrieked. It was quite loud, I think Karl thought I had finally given into the madness! I was so honoured to be asked and felt like I was waiting for Christmas while I counted down the days.

We made a bold decision and didn’t tell the boys what we were doing. It was a Friday afternoon so picked them up from school and told them we were off on an adventure. There were numerous guesses as you can imagine. My favourite was a goat sanctuary and we managed to keep them believing that until we pulled up outside the studios.

You can imagine the excitement, the delight and all the questions. Nate asked if there were any goats inside which I will make sure to remind him of when he is older to embarrass him! When you arrive you realise just how massive the scale of making the movies was. The studios are huge and the excitement builds the minute you get to the ticket office due to large posters from the films.

We were greeted by some of the lovely staff and given a Goblet of Fire lanyard with a number of tickets inside the plastic pocket. These included a chocolate frog from the studio shop, a Butterbeer, dinner and a photograph each from the green screen area.

The entrance area is huge and you can see the Weasley families flying car, giant pictures of the cast throughout the years of filming and for the Goblet of Fire special the huge goblet used for the premiere of the film in London which I would say is at least twice the height of Hagrid. Here there is the studio shop, a cafe and an area where you can store bags and coats. We were quickly greeted by lots of other family bloggers and asked to wait ready to be called in for our adventure.

I’m not going to give away all of the secrets as you need to be surprised by all the magic they have to offer. You are literally blown away by being taken into the world we know and love. The staff knowing they were talking to bloggers and their families all of whom were massive Potter fans had us cheering along like children (even the grownups) and were so welcoming and clearly loved working at the studios. They were happy to answer as many questions as we had to ask (Nate and Leo as usual had loads) and there were lots of staff on hand in each part of the tour to offer guidance and show off added extras. The Forbidden Forest in particular had lots of special effects on offer.

I imagine you will have been reading up to this point thinking that I’ve not mentioned awful behaviour from the kids or any kind of unexpected disaster which usually is a key theme around any of my blog posts. Don’t worry I’m not going to disappoint you! Nate and Leo being their usual selves did quite a lot of rushing ahead and then running back to us to tell us what was next and how amazing the studios were.

At one point we were on the Hogwarts Express (yes you can actually go on it!) and looking through the windows into the compartments that were each set up around one of the films. Karl and I were discussing how amazing it was and how we felt like we were really there when we heard a massive crashing of metal outside the train windows. I actually and quite stupidly said to Karl ‘at least for once we know it’s not our two’ then both looked up the train to see no Nate or Leo. I then looked out of the window of the Hogwarts Express to see Leo entwined in the rope and metal railings that ordinarily make the area you queue in to get onto the train. Staff members from the railway shop had run over and were helping him and Nate was stood looking sheepish knowing as soon as we turned up they would be in trouble.

I absolutely dreaded the looks we would get, not only from all the other parent bloggers of impeccably behaved children but also from the staff but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The staff were kind, thoughtful and tried to put Leo at ease acknowledging we were in one of the most exciting places we could be. I was really touched when one of them came and found us a little later to find out how Leo was and ask if we were having a good time.

Shortly after the Hogwarts Express incident we stopped for dinner. We were all really hungry and thirsty and I cannot resist Butterbeer. There is a lovely range of food and we all were able to find some yummy food we wanted. I then had the delight of trying Butterbeer ice cream for the first time and I have to say I would have happily eaten 27 of them. So so yummy, you really need to try it if you can!

There are outside sets and props too for you to look at and explore and we spent a good hour here. The boys loved feeling a massive part of the magic and we took so many pictures of them enjoying themselves. My face hurt from all the smiling! As with any attraction we were able to learn lots about how the books were bought to life for the big screen and to see how the geniuses who worked on the films made it so magical. You wouldn’t imagine that some of the things you see were possible and yet there they were ready for Leo to knock over!

On purpose I haven’t gone into what to expect in great detail as for me and my family part of the joy was not knowing what is around the next corner and as the studios change the exhibits and themes throughout the year you can always expect something new. What I will say though that the studios are a family trip that you will never forget. For the young and the old it was a magical wonder and I haven’t smiled so much in a long time. There are few things that ignite the spark in all of us and Harry Potter is one of them. There really is something for everyone to see, hear and do.

We were lucky enough to be invited along as guests and to buy tickets isn’t cheap however you can stay all day. They don’t rush you and you can stay in each area for as long as you like. The only thing you can’t do is go back so make sure to drink in each and every area before you move on. You can find more details and book online here. I would say that for a family treat it is one of the best days out we have had and has something to offer to all. I plan on taking the boys back for Christmas to see the Great Hall in all its festive splendour.

I also hope that we are not on the banned list after Leo’s accidental attempt at destroying Platform nine and three quarters!

Tension headaches, power problems and pesky button holes…….

Hey all, how are things? I am now on day six of what has been diagnosed by the doctor as a tension headache. This is something I feel like I have been suffering with for sometime but have never really been sure of the cause. The doctor asked me what do I have to be stressed or tense about. Now I didn’t cry or list off the things I feel are contributing to my stresses but it has caused me to do some serious reflecting and to think about all the things that I currently have going on. From a serious renovation and extension project to a change of role at work to my normal battles with my anxiety and depression and of course being a mum to two boys who have spent far more time in the local minor injury clinic this last week than I am happy with.

Life is as always fast paced and terribly busy. I am slowly realising that this is my life and I just need to work out ways within it to keep me on an even keel and not suffering from brain splitting headaches. I am going to try and get more into meditation, I am going to make more time for reading as I always find that escapism in some way comforts me, I am going to try and eat right (yes I acknowledge this means I have to stop eating all the peanut M&M’s!), cut down on alcohol and appreciate the tiny things more. I also am going to put more into my journaling and to make a point of writing a little something every morning before I begin my day about what I am worrying about, what I would like to achieve and what I am grateful for.

I realise I need to identify times that are the most likely to cause extra stress and tension and plan better for them. For example this week when the plasterers are in the house and everything is a total whirlwind coupled with Karl being in Ireland I have been in a massive spin. I as always put some of my thoughts and feelings on Instagram and some of my lovely friends there were able to give me some reassurances. A very wise lady who I have met through Instagram Gabrielle Treanor asked me what I could put to one side this week to not add to the additional stress. She also asked me what I could do every day to make time for my own wellbeing and offered to check in on me to see how I am doing. Today being the first day I have done nothing so far but write as I am waiting for delivery of our new wardrobe doors so I’m stuck in a sense. I will of course let you know how I get on with this as I am not keen on just taking pills to get rid of these headaches and would rather try and fight them naturally.

So to start the day as I meant to go on I came to my mums this morning for the boys and I to get ready as the plasterers were arriving early. Now this means even more dust and it was just easier to make use of my parents house. They were out this morning so I started pottering about to get ready. I was upstairs when I could smell toast being cooked downstairs, I smiled as it’s nice that the boys are taking responsibility for themselves but also had a shudder wondering what could go wrong. I sorted the clothes and came downstairs to make some tea. I opened the fridge to get the milk and noticed the fridge light wasn’t on. I thought this odd but that was it and continued to fill the kettle and put the teabag in the cup. It was only when the kettle wouldn’t switch on that it finally twigged that something wasn’t quite right. It was only then also that I heard a loud pitched alarm type sound that continued to beep every minute and a half thereafter. The power was quite clearly out.

I had no idea where the circuit box is in my parents house but assumed it was under the stairs. I couldn’t find it so called Karl as I couldn’t get hold of my mum. He was just getting on a plane and you could tell giddy at the prospect of a child free few days but told me that the circuit box was in my parents garage and that I would need to move a few bits out of the way but should be able to sort it. So I opened the giant garage doors (still in my pyjamas as I planned on showering at mums) only to find what I can describe as a mountain of gardening equipment surrounding the worlds smallest circuit box. I had to move a garden mower thing, a wheel chair, camping equipment, two scooters, a go kart and all manner of other heavy garden type machinery before I could even get near to the circuit board. All the while I was doing this I could hear the boys screaming at each other. I managed to flick the switch and went back inside to check that the power had turned back on. It had and I ignored World War Three raging between the boys to go back outside and try and get all the bits back in the garage.

I have never been much good at jigsaw puzzles so this life size version wasn’t going well. Not helped by the fact that the giant lawn mower leaf blower thing kept wheeling itself off along the driveway every time I let go of it. eventually I managed to get it all in and got back into the house dripping with sweat and looking like stig of the dump. I then had to deal with the broken items that the boys had damaged while waging World War Three and still had both them and I to get ready. I clicked the kettle on and the whole lot shorted again. You can imagine how my stress and tension levels were then!

Leo had a Royal Wedding themed day at school today and along with his smart wedding attire we foraged in the garden and made a beautiful button hole for him out of cow parsley, forget me nots and other greenery. I put it in a bowl with some water last night and into the fridge to keep it nice and fresh for this morning. The only trouble was that when it came out of the fridge it had turned into an ice cube and had to spend much of the morning defrosting before I decided that I couldn’t send him to school with a floral ice cube strapped to his shirt so gave up. I did however tell as many people as I could on the school run that we had made a button hole but I’m sure the vast majority thought ‘yeah whatever, what idiot turns a button hole into an ice cube?!’

I hope that my ramblings have in some way made you smile and I admit that because I can’t do anything else other than wait for wardrobe doors I am going to make another cuppa (and hope it doesn’t short the power again!) and just sit and be for a bit. What’s the worst that can happen?

Have a great day lovely people, Lucy xxx

If you want to read more about the work of my lovely friend Gabrielle Treanor click here.