Find your diamonds and hold them tight

I’ve just finished reading “Cows” by Dawn O’Porter.

While very well-written and thought-provoking, I struggled with it. I just couldn’t buy into the main premise. Women aren’t that down on each other in my experience. Granted I don’t live in London and I don’t work in an office environment, but I am pretty media-savvy. The kind of ruthless judgement described in the novel just rang a bit hollow with me.

Two things happened this weekend to prove me right.

The first was Slice in the City.

Now, I love Instagram. I appreciate many of you prefer Twitter or Facebook or, you know, phone calls – but I get SO MUCH out of my insta community. It’s as close as this 11 years-married chick gets to speed dating. Thanks in large part to the advice of Danni @chachipowerproject, I have deliberately designed myself an inspiring and healthy feed. I follow dancers and artists, mums and independents, businesswomen and inventors and experts in all sorts of niche areas.

Slice in the City was where we all met in real life.

Csn you imagine a more interesting crowd to spend your Saturday afternoon with?

When Nic stood up to do her welcome speech (she goes by the name of @weeslice and is the powerhouse who brought us all to the Apex that sunny day) she pointed out about 70% of the 80 or so people there had come alone. And yet, no one was standing by themselves.

i know I approached a woman looking a bit lonely to say hi – and loads of others must have done the same.

I was invited to join a book club (“Oh we don’t actually read books, you ok with that?”) and a brunch club (“I need to escape my kids at least once a month”). I finally found an eyebrow expert who kindly agreed to make my brow sisters into twins and got massive hugs from people I’d never met but felt I knew.

In short, I spent three hours with 80 women and felt nothing but positivity.

The next thing that happened was utterly terrifying.

My 7 yo went missing.

I’ll tell you the short version, in that he was found within the hour and he was fine.

I had to phone the police and I put a message on our local Facebook group. I don’t want to go into it, except to say I was overwhelmed by the reaction of my community.

Everyone was out looking and the support was really quite humbling. When he was found I got so many messages full of love. “You must have been beside yourself” – “We’re so relieved” – “Go and pour yourself a large drink”. I was mortified to have caused such a kerfuffle – but all I was getting was compassion. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

So while I accept that “Cows” is just a novel, and Instagram is often toxic and neighbours can be problematic – I want to stand up for the good guys.

There are fabulous, genuine diamonds all around us if we just open our hearts to them.

They could make your afternoon – or save your child’s life.

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How was your morning?

My watch buzzed and my pillow muffled the beeping of my phone.

4.30am – time to get up.

I climbed down from my son’s bunk – it had been another night of musical beds.

I crept downstairs to the toilet – but before I could even make it to the living room and my carefully laid out clothes – I heard footsteps.

KD’s fingers appeared on the toilet door and his squinting, chubby face – eyes half obscured by a too-long fringe – loomed out of the darkness. He was clutching a sporran filled with pennies.

“What are you doing up?” I crouched to cuddle his warm little body.

“I didn’t want anyone to steal my money,” he informed me.

I tucked him up on the couch with a fluffy blanket, dressed quickly and put cartoons on so I could do my makeup in peace. When the taxi arrived and I kissed him goodbye he burst into noisy sobs.

“I want to come too mummeeeeeeeee” he wailed.

Rod appeared looking dishevelled and scooped him up so I could leave without the histrionics waking the Wee Man.

The driver wanted to chat, but I was trying to check in online and the FlyBe app wasn’t cooperating. Eventually I emailed myself the boarding pass and took a screenshot to make sure.

It was all going swimmingly until I realised there were two flights leaving for London City at 6.30 – with one letter of difference. One was at Gate 5. The other – the right one – was at Gate 28. I sprinted but I was met by a red screen and a rude high vis jacket.

Desperately I turned to the other, older lady and gasped, “I need some help please, how do I rebook?”

“It’s OK love, just go to SwissPort next to baggage claim, they’ll help you out,” she said kindly.

I repeated SwissPort, SwissPort, SwissPort as I sprinted all the way back through the airport – almost to the fucking taxi rank.

“There’s another flight at 7.10, that will be £111 please,” the SwissPort woman announced.

I was actually relieved it was that cheap – and smiled at the boiling Irishman next to me who was being charged £55 to check in at the airport. “That’s still only half the money I’ve wasted,” I remarked and he smiled a bit.

All she gave me was a receipt – I still had to make it to the desk for my boarding pass before tackling security all over again.

“This happens every single day,” the check-in clerk told me. “You’d think they’d do something about two flights so similar.”

Her sympathy was nice, but her typing skills were slow. I glanced at my watch. 6.34am. I then took it off, and my bangle, and my jumper so I’d have a survivor’s chance at security.

I was that person pushing past everyone going “excuse me, sorry, so sorry, I’m going to miss my flight again, sorry” (yes I actually said again, they must have thought I was a rocket). I made it through the scanner (woop) but where was my boarding pass and drivers’s licence? They were right there on top of my jacket…

“Excuse me?” I said loudly and too high. Thank the fucking fuck the security guy found it on the floor. He passed it to me with a look but I could only grab it and run. Except I couldn’t run could I? Suddenly every child in the whole western world was in front of me, every passenger had a bag the size of a small four poster, every walkway was suddenly out of order…

Ladies and gentlemen – I made it onto the 7.10 with four minutes to spare. It too left from Gate 28.

My hair is frizzy, my back is soaked with sweat, but I’m typing this from the ExCeL Arena in London and I made it here (after missing just the one DLR train) BEFORE THE EXPO OPENED.

Winning.

 

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Signor Baffo’s Restaurant: Fringe Review

WIN 2 TICKETS! Just like this post to enter – draw on Wednesday 8/8 at 8pm

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Reasons I loved this show:

*One child laughed so hard on stage, he wet himself

*The interaction from the kids was so spirited it bordered on improv

*He made a massive mess on the floor with eggs and flour

*The kids got to chuck stuff at him

*There were a few classic lines for the adults that sailed straight over the kids’ heads

So – I was super-chuffed when I was offered tix for this show and asked to review it. You see, the first line after the title was “free pancakes for everyone afterwards and tea and coffee for parents”. Now this is a performer who knows his audience.

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I’m always a bit nervous taking my wild kids to live performances (see this review) – but the layout of this Fringe show was ideal. Lots of big cushions at the front for wee ones and then rows of seats for the adults – with plenty room down the sides for toilet dashes. (Too bad that cute blonde kid on stage didn’t make it.)

From his entrance on a bike to his sprint exit, Signor Baffo held the kids’ attention like the Pied Piper. His energy was relentless but perfectly controlled. He mixed it up constantly, drawing us in to the tiny details of a sausage in a dress then taking up the whole space with spaghetti bolognese tennis. My boys were spellbound.

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Afterwards, it seemed the guy had spent every penny of his profit on the extras – pancakes with all sorts of toppings for the kids, tea and proper coffee for us, balloons, stick-on moustaches, hats, crayons… Like I said – he clearly knew his audience.

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The final seal of approval came from KD who, just as we were walking out The Principal Hotel’s front door, suddenly wailed: “I want to go back!” and sprinted down three corridors before I could catch him.

5 stars *****

Signor Baffo’s Restaurant 11am (45 mins) 5-27 Aug Venue 119 The Principal, George St

WIN 2 TICKETS! Just like this post to enter – draw on Wednesday 8/8 at 8pm

 

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PAW PATROL LIVE! review

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After an astonishingly successful trip to Justin’s Band in March, I felt brave enough to accept a family press ticket to Paw Patrol Live – The Great Pirate Adventure.

The first thing to say is we are HUGE Paw Patrol fans in our house. Huge. Bribe-them-with-a-new-pup-for-sleeping-through-the-night huge.

So when I told them we were going to see them live, their faces were a picture.

“Live? Like alive? In real life?” KD sought to clarify with a three year old’s logic.

“Yes! They’ll be right in front of you! Marshall, Chase, Rubble – the whole gang!” I confirmed, as they both started jumping up and down squealing.

“Are you going to see Paw Patrol?” the nursery teacher asked at pick up. “He’s mentioned it once or twice…”

Then, at 6am today, a human bullet hit me in the stomach.

“Is it today Mummy? Do we have the tickets for today?” KD demanded, holding my face in his hands for my full focus.

Thank goodness it was a 10am showing.

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I’ll make a small complaint here about The Edinburgh Playhouse. No issue with the Box Office and ticket collection, but come on. A massive snaking queue of effervescent children waiting to get into the venue?

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At least it moved fairly quickly – and the ticket staff were fabulous.

“Now, no crowd surfing at the end, young man,” he warned my seven year old.

Huge thanks to Emma at Norton PR for acquiescing to my request for an aisle seat – we had row M in the circle. This meant loads of legroom and easy access which, when you have a child with ADHD, is a godsend.

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Kudos too to Mummy and Daddy who timed the entry to perfection – three minutes til showtime.

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As a parent, there are few things more touching than witnessing the look of glorious wonder on your children’s faces as they take in their cartoon heroes right in front of them.

They sat motionless.

Not silent, but motionless.

They yelled every character’s name and waved hello as they entered, gazed spellbound as they sang and danced, screamed and pointed at the errant parrot and generally soaked in the whole experience.

There was a quick dash to the cash point in the Omni centre so they could have the flashing cutlasses brandished by everyone around them (£15 a pop – ouch!). There was also a harried return to locate the mobile phone which slipped between the seats and was noted as missing back in the car. But otherwise, it was a stress-free experience.

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“I want to go and talk to them!” was the only complaint at the end. I wonder if the company might consider a meet-and-greet. Not in the foyer – that place was crazy. We even got collared by a film crew who wanted KD’s reaction – but he was in a huff. He was not up for it in the slightest. But perhaps somewhere else…

If I had to sum up the show in one word, it would be ‘energetic’.

The cast were brilliant – they must have been knackered by the end. I loved the way they combined oversize puppets with a video background. A lot of the music was familiar from the TV show, but there was plenty of new material too. The boys got involved with some of the dance routines and there was just enough panto “he’s behind you” to engage the audience without descending into farce.

As a parent, I loved it. Super colourful, high tempo, professional and fun.

As a kid – well, they couldn’t have been happier. When a boy with a short attention span can be engrossed for 90 minutes, you know you’ve done a great job.

Bravo production team.

5 star recommended *****

excited

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Should you put your kids on social media?

My sister had a gorgeous baby boy in February. He’s the cutest wee thing and his laugh makes my heart burst.

You’ll just have to take my word for it though. She’s decided his face will not be on social media.

“I feel it’s his choice and I shouldn’t make that decision for him,” she told me. “Also, there are some weird and awful people on the internet and it freaks me out. I want to protect him. And anyway, people’s baby spam gets so boring…”

It’s a tricky one – particularly for parent bloggers like me.

I take reasonable precautions – I give my children code names, I password-protect the most personal posts and I try to only publish pictures that are appropriate.

I’ve cut back hugely on the instagram pics of my boys. My profile there is open – and I’ve decided to make it less personal and more general. I’ve ‘rebranded’ to EdinburghKim and the focus is now on Edinburgh life. It’s still my Edinburgh life – but I’m thinking more about my audience and what they might be interested in – like recommendations of cafes and days out. Any family pics or videos I put on my insta stories – gone in 24hrs.

Could I take my kids off social media altogether?

I don’t think I could.

I bumped into my friend Sarah in the gym this morning. We hadn’t seen each other for months so the kettlebells were ignored for a good 15 minutes while we caught up.

“I love seeing your pics of the boys,” she said. “You can tell how close they are!”

We met at a baby music class, so I feel like our kids are a big part of our relationship. I love watching her girls grow up, and all the funny things they get up to. I think removing our little ones from social media would really affect the bonds I have with a lot of my friends.

I pushed the boundaries a little bit recently though.

On holiday in Spain, we made a video.

The point of it is to sell our property in Aberdeen – but it’s a bit daft, and both my youngest and my husband feature in it. They both absolutely loved the process and the finished product. KD in particular was a natural on camera and has watched it over and over and over.

One friend who saw it said we should start a channel and my immediate reaction was NO WAY!

That’s a step too far.

If, when they’re old enough, they want to start vlogging then I’ll advise and supervise, but for now I’m going to give them that privacy at least.

Where do your boundaries lie?

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It’s hard, but it’s quick – The Cleanse

I love food.

I love baked Camembert and steak pie and Magnums and rum cocktails.

I’m active but I’m greedy. If there’s a packet of Oreos in front of me, I’ll hoover half of them and don’t even get me started on Kettle Chips…

Last Wednesday I got a fright. My jeans had been feeling a bit tight, so I booked into a spin class and thought I’d jump on the scales in the gym.

I nearly burst into tears right there next to the kettle bells.

I was 2.5kg (5.5lb) over my maximum weight. I have a 2kg(4.4lb) plus or minus range I try to stay within – and here I was miles over. How had this happened? I realised it was pretty simple. I’d been eating like a pig.

Send help

So after blasting that spin class, I did what any woman does. I got straight on Whatsapp and wailed to my girls.

“Do you want my help?” Dionne – the London-based nutritionist and personal trainer – asked.

“YES!” I shouted.

Being the wonderful supportive friend she is, she immediately sent me details of the cleanse* she normally charges a lot of money for.

“It has to start with your gut health,” she explained. “You need to clear out all the crap, get on top of the cravings and change your eating habits for good.”

Christ. I read through that pack with growing dread.

On the list of foods to enjoy, I was pleased to see:

eggs

walnuts

oats

steak and chicken

peppermint tea

most vegetables

coconut

On the list of foods to avoid were – well – everything else.

“I can cut out everything but coffee,” I texted back, but she was adamant. I was desperate. I said I’d do it.

The headache

Oh dear lord the headache. It started later on Wednesday and I swear it didn’t shift until Saturday morning. It was so bad that I called Dionne on Friday night and said I wasn’t sure I could carry on. She was sympathetic and said I could adapt it as long as I stuck to the golden rules:

8 glasses of water a day

no processed foods

no carbs after 2pm

no sugar

Thank god I woke up without that headache on Saturday or I would have probably quit in a spectacular orgy of Cadburys and Costa. As it was I drank my peppermint tea, gave myself a pep talk and carried on.

The turning point

Sunday was a huge challenge because we went to a family barbecue. My mother-in-law is a spectacular cook and hostess, all my favourite things were on the table in front of me – tortilla chips, Desperados beer, big floury rolls, ice cream… But I abstained. Ok, I had four tortilla chips. FINE it was eight. But old me would have scoffed the bag and washed it all down with beer, so I’m still calling it a win.

I woke up on Monday and I didn’t crave coffee. I was astonished, then smug. I posted it on Instagram and everything.

Last night I went out for dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen for ages – I drove, I drank a virgin Mojito (apple juice, lime juice naughty) and I had steak and salad for dinner. I had one small glass of red wine and savoured every sip. The next day was the weigh-in, I gave myself the wine for making it that far.

The weigh in

So this morning I headed to the gym and those scales. I told myself not to hope too much. 1kg would be great, a sixth of my goal weight loss before our summer holiday. I stepped on and held my breath. Oh. I’d lost 500g. No, wait – what’s that first number? I actually gasped.

I’d lost 2.5kg. That’s five and a half pounds. In a week.

I’ve lost a third of my goal weight loss in one week.

I am so damn proud of myself.

So what’s next?

Well – I have created some good habits and I’m going to Spain in seven weeks, so I’ll be damned if I stop now. Dionne (who was super proud) said I could reintroduce fruit a week today. One portion a day – and berries are my friend. Meantime I’m happy to avoid the coffee and I can stay on the wagon. I may introduce a sandwich at lunchtime – but I can do without carbs at dinner time. I think I’ll bring yoghurts back for my afternoon snack. Oh – and I’d better do my measurements for a truer reflection of my transformation.

Bonus features

Genuinely – I feel fantastic. I feel in balance – neither full nor hungry. I’m so proud of this willpower I’ve discovered in myself. I feel strong. I’m totally motivated – this works and I have a holiday at the end of it. If I do have a wee cheat, I enjoy every morsel of it. It’s a good lesson for life. You should try it.

*The Cleanse is tailored to each client – Dionne knows my medical history so could confidently recommend it. She’s a nutritionist, not a dietician, so always has a consultation with the client before suggesting any programmes.

 

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Crippled by choice – millennial dating

coffee-shop-2734987_1920My friend Suz and I have been having a very amusing exchange this past fortnight – but today it turned a bit sinister.
You see, she’s made a new friend. She met him through work, so at first had a totally legit reason to text him. Then she had to send him a big file, so used WhatsApp. She started following his Instagram account and he sent her a Facebook friend request.
Now she has to see him at a work event and she’s nervous. He hasn’t replied to her last WhatsApp message even though she can see when he was last active and actually he viewed her Instagram story and tagged her in a Facebook post so she isn’t being a keen bean but then she has instigated the last two conversations and OH MY GOD why is she even questioning it?!
Considering we’re both in our 30s and happily married with kids, we are clearly on this battlefield unarmed.
I ran this past a much younger, single friend and she guffawed.
“Yeah and wait til you add in snapchat!” she groaned.
She met her last boyfriend on Tinder, swapped actual mobile numbers, chatted on  Whatsapp became Facebook friends and then, when they finally met for a drink, knew absolutely everything about each other.
“I knew what his last girlfriend looked like, when they’d split up, who’d helped him through it and who they were dating,” she said.
“I was so tempted to ask whether Gary was still with Lucy cos they’d been so nice to him last September – it was crazy having that much background.”
She was very dismissive of her best friend’s ex who frequently liked her Instagram stories but didn’t actually follow her.
“I mean the guy is looking her up manually to check her stories – what a weirdo,” she said witheringly.
Apparently she and her friends have standard messages they’ve created to send out a) if a date is going badly so they can be rescued or b) if the guy needs to be let down gently. Two of the girls have similar tastes so their rule is if they progress from Tinder to Whatsapp they send each other his profile pic to check the other isn’t messaging him too.
Yep. My brain just exploded.
I worry for the future of the human race if this is how we’re mating.
“Oh god no, it’s so much fun!” this young friend corrected me.
“I’m meeting people way outside my circle and a lot of them end up friends. You can feel very powerful while you’re playing the game and you’re always out. Plus, you know, I get bored easily,” she said.
And there’s the nub of the matter.
These millennials are crippled by choice and distracted like children. As painful as it is to be ghosted (that chat that abruptly ends, usually before a date or after a shag) there are plenty more people to swipe left on. Or is it right?
I’m too scared to find out.

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