Getting what you want and still being unhappy about it…..

I know what you are thinking…… what an ungrateful title and it’s true. Getting what you want and what you’ve worked hard for is the most amazing feeling in the world and yet for so many of us it is also so hard to deal with and negotiate. The feelings can be overwhelming, all encompassing and actually can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing. I don’t think this lasts forever but that it is our minds way of adapting to what are often significant changes in our lives.

I imagine many people wouldn’t get that in the mind of someone who suffers with their mental health they can be happy and have nothing but good things going on and yet still feel utterly lost. Life is such a rollercoaster in so many ways and I feel like many of us are just more susceptible than others to be affected by each and every twist and turn.

I am of course mostly talking about my own life, this last year has been full on, stressful and demanding. I’ve had some victories which I have been so happy about and the changes that follow them have been ones that have not always been on my own timeline and that’s something I’ve always found hard.

Coming off my antidepressants is something I have written about here often. We are at the year mark now and as much as I ‘m happy to be medication free I am also disappointed that one of the main reasons I came off them was because of physical side effects which actually haven’t gone away. I have always been someone who in my struggles has been more depressed that anxious though the two are always present however anxiety seems to be my main issue now and to the point where it is having physical side effects which are causing me some considerable issues.

There is of course an argument to go back onto some form of medication and that’s what most people I discuss this with say to me. At the moment it’s not a route I want to take and I am for now managing myself using other methods that I have learned through my years of therapy and the many books I have made myself read on the subject. That doesn’t make it easy though. Medication doesn’t make it easy, there are no magical cures and no quick fixes to help us deal with life and how our brains process it. In fact I have considered maybe I was naïve and thought that coming off my tablets and being chemical free would somehow make everything better. I realise reading back what I wrote at the time and six months tablet free that I wasn’t but I do think that I was happy to blame the tablets for all the physical issues I was having when in fact it seems like they didn’t really have much bearing on it at all.

Lately I have found that lots of things that used to bring me joy I haven’t had time for or haven’t been able to include in life as much as I’d like. Time then moves on and you fill it with the other things that are more ‘important’ and all of a sudden find that those joyful things have taken a backseat and that you are affected by them not being there anymore. I am sure this is one of the reasons why I am not so happy at the moment and finding that things that should be making me smile aren’t. Reading is one of those things, I love to read and find myself in a world that is totally unlike my own, to get lost in the tales of others, in love stories and fantasy worlds and to have some escapism from the real world. Alas, there is a giant pile of books I haven’t got through, my concentration is so lacking and I’m always so tired that I just can’t manage to read. I have recently got through one book, ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller which took me back to A Level Lucy who studied Classics and lapped up all the history of Greek Mythology. I enjoyed reading it but felt guilty for taking the time to do so.

I used to run and savour exercise but again I just don’t feel like there is time at the moment. Of course there would be if I made time for it but that would have to be at the detriment of something else and the Lucy I am at the moment who finds more joy in a sharing bag of Doritoes than in trying to fit into running gear is scared of being judged for being bigger than I have been in a long time and for not being very good at it anymore. I still love going on my walks but I tend to go at times when it’s very quiet and I feel like I can be myself and not have to see people.

I was talking to a friend who is very similar to me with her mental health. She has recently been able to make some changes in her life which are amazingly positive and make a huge difference to her wellbeing but now that she has done it she is worrying about other things. We both cursed our brains for not allowing us to just be happy for ourselves and instead to revert to the default position of worrying and not letting our minds rest.

I think with me and the position I find myself in now is that the anxiety I am having about all manners of life is something I need to get in control as I can’t be happy and content all the while I am worrying about every tiny detail, not getting any sleep and not saying no to things I can’t sustain because I feel like I will be judged for saying no. This is an ongoing journey and having referred myself back for more CBT (three months on the waiting list and counting) it’s one I hope to deal with and manage in order for my life to be on an even keel again.

I get that this post is probably massively depressing but it really isn’t meant to be. I think it’s me saying you know what its okay to have loads of amazing things going on and still feel like you haven’t quite found your feet, its okay to not feel confident all the time and its definitely okay to start over on a journey even if its one you’ve undertaken before.

I am grateful for all of the huge blessings I have in my life. I am grateful that I’ve become who I am from where I was three years ago when I started this blog and undertook some of the toughest times of my life. I am blessed in so many ways and I just need to get my brain in check to recognise that just because I am blessed doesn’t mean its not okay to always be happy. To recognise that I am who I am and that I will always feel everything and often harder than others do. I am a work in progress every single day and at the moment I need to see that the work on me is what is desperately needing to be done as opposed to prioritising other things that will still be there when I’ve sorted my ever worrying, never switching off brain.

So if you like me are up every night with insomnia, suffering with constant thoughts of not being good enough or not being able to cope, the dizziness and shaking that anxiety brings and the tears that come from no where then please know, you will be okay, you need some help and that’s absolutely fine. You can push pause and you have places you can look for help. You may also benefit from telling someone and reminding yourself of the things that bring you joy. The things your brain may have allowed you to push out you can make time for and the people around you will respect and understand that.

Much love, Lucy xxx

Reflections from an antidepressant free woman

It occurs to me that I’ve hardly written anything here for months. I think a big part of that is life and it going at 150mph as usual and me struggling to keep up. It also and this is the hard bit for me to write is because I’ve been trying to get to know myself again.

Sounds ridiculous I know. As a thirty five year old woman you would think i should have a pretty good idea of who I am but I think that coming off my tablets and having to take on board all that entailed has made me realise quite a few things about me.

In lots of ways it’s heightened my sensitivity to everything and I mean everything. That’s a good thing in some ways but really hard in others. Coming off my tablets didn’t mean I was cured and no longer suffered with the MH issues I do it simply meant I wasn’t happy to deal with the physical side effects anymore. That’s a massively personal decision and one I stand by and would respect anyone in their decisions with regards to being on meds or not. They are amazing things and help so many people, I’m definitely a fan I just felt they were not for me anymore.

I’ve definitely come into a bit of a slump, feeling everything can be exhausting and beautiful all at the same time. I find I process things now in a very different way to how I did before and have taken a much more logical approach to myself and my struggles. In my head now I play out what is worrying, bothering or making me down. I ask myself questions about it, I write down the answers and I try to talk about them to people I know have my best interests at heart. These are things I did sometimes do when I was taking my tablets but I almost thought that because I was taking them they helped to deal with all that and I was with hindsight lazy in how I dealt with my thoughts and feelings.

When I have bad days now I tend to go to being angry with myself for not being able to just snap out of it and guilty for those around me who might get frustrated and pissed off with me (I don’t think they do, it’s just my mind) then I remember even when I was medicated my default position throughout my whole adult life has been one of hating myself. I’ve always been cruel to myself and so far it’s never helped once in fact it’s made my life harder and I’ve suffered ridiculously because of it. So I’ve learned on days like today to take it as just that, a day like today. Maybe tomorrow I will feel like this and if it goes on too long I need to take responsibility for those feelings and seek to get some help with them. Or maybe tomorrow I will feel okay and realise today was just one of those days.

It’s not easy, in fact dealing with these issues on a daily basis is hard and exhausting. It really is fighting a battle no one knows anything about and all that before you do anything else like be a parent, go to work and do all the other things that are expected of grown ups. Sometimes as well I now realise that I blame my mental health issues for things when actually they have nothing to do with it. To give the most common example with the boys. Two boys, a year apart in age with totally different interests, who both feel they are entitled to everything now, who don’t understand that their parents get tired and have to work exceptionally hard to give them all the things they do and who try to kill each other at least seven times a day would I think give any human being a headache from time to time. They are good boys, I don’t mean to make them sound like they aren’t but they like lots of other children don’t realise how lucky they are and often take it for granted. When the boys are being shits I feel down and disrespected. When my friends children are being shits they feel down and disrespected. These feelings aren’t exclusive to those with mental health issues but are probably present in all parents at some point in the children raising adventures of life.

Also I realise that sometimes people make me feel crap. Things they say, things they do and how they treat people. Again this isn’t all about me having mental health issues and a lot more about the fact that some people are arseholes and it says more about them. Once you accept this fact and don’t blame mental health it’s quite an empowering feeling. The fact I have the issues I do may of course mean that my reaction to these people is a bit more severe or it bothers me for longer but any person would be bothered by such behaviour whether they were a MH sufferer or not and if I remember that I can draw strength from it. Feeling crap because of people’s actions whether it be Donald Trump or a rude staff member at a supermarket is not exclusive to me and sadly occurs the world over again because some people are just not nice.

So as much as staying on my meds would have been easier I’m pleased I decided to take that leap. For someone like me processing these thoughts and feelings no matter how hard or painful is something I realise now that I need to do. I need to be aware and mindful of my own thoughts and how I deal with them. Then I can in turn realise how they effect me and learn to deal with them in a way that is healthy, beneficial and kind to me and those around me. It takes more time to live in this way and I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it when I could just go back on my meds but then and this is one of the most profound things I have said in ages surely time when spent on you and your health is worth spending. Doing what you want to do and in a way you want to do it isn’t selfish it’s essential. Caring for yourself is key and however you do this is valid, important and worth it even if others wouldn’t deal with the same issue in the same way or don’t understand your path.

As many of you know last year I became a Champion for the Time to Change Campaign in my area. Champions are mental health sufferers who want to help others by talking about their own struggles with mental health issues. This Thursday the 7th of Feb is their ‘Time to Talk’ day. A day encouraging people to have a conversation about mental health. This is a huge thing and really every day should be one. I am going to be working on Thursday but will be equipped with some resources and will be encouraging people to talk about their MH or to learn about others. I am honest about my struggles probably to the point of oversharing but I believe it’s important. It needs talking about and by talking about it we can spread awareness and even help those around us (listening is a massive part of this too!) So do me a favour if you can please and have a chat with someone on Thursday, in person, via text, email, social media, over a fence, at the checkout or wherever. Let me know if you do and how it went. You can find out more about the Time to Change Campaign here.

As always thanks for reading and if you need to need to get in touch please do.

Lucy xxx

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!

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.