The news this morning reported parents “anxieties” about letting their children enjoy the freedom of outdoor play. One tabloid even reported that parents were “forcing” their children to play indoors thus creating a new generation of obese children. As a parent of two young boys I am aware of the dangers that are out there to our children.  But I am also aware that inflicting our fears on them could turn our children into a generation of scaredy cats.  There is a fine line.

So what are we to do? Raise scared, obese children to be scared obese adults? Or do we take the unthinkable risk and let them run wild on the assumption that the “stranger danger bogey man” is not hiding behind every bush?

My guess is that you have to trust parents to make that decision subjectively.

We are very lucky that we live in  house with a nice area of green outside for our children to plat on.  It is set back from the road, and big enough to kick a football on. To the delight of my children is also perfect for a communal (paddling) pool to share with their friends.  We have the added bonus that our neighbours have children of similar ages so there is very much a communal feel about our area.  On a warm weekend we will all have our front doors wide open, we feed each others children and have them running in and out of our houses.  There is only the occasional upset when we have splinter or the children have an argument.

We have actually HAD a summer this year (and long may it continue).  With the kids now on the summer holidays their outside existence is there in abundance, with the occasional blip of a rainy day or a reluctant yet dutiful Grandparent visit.

Like I say, we are lucky.  Our children are able to have the freedom of the outside with the security of knowing their safe haven is a stones throw away. 

As parents I am also happy they are building their little imaginations with their outdoor games.  When I quietly watch them from the step I can see their natural leadership, organisation and social skills simply ooze from them.

Not to look through rose tinted glasses, but my childhood was equally idyllic.  We played a little bit further away perhaps, but this was the 1980’s.  And things were different then.  That’s not to say things didn’t happen, but there was not much news of it. Or if there was we as children were shielded from it.

I am aware that in a year or two I shall have their questions about heading to the park with their friends.  Now the park is not on our doorstep but requires them to cross a road and it is also out of our viewing range.  I shall cross that bridge when I come to it…..!

So what do you do if you have children in a flat or a townhouse on the edge of a busy road?  Do you feel that you have no choice but you have them play indoors unless you are there to watch their every move?  What age is acceptable for them to “wander off” to explore with their friends?  What boundaries do you set? 

I would love to hear your opinions on this.

I am normally a VERY good sleeper. I jokingly tell people that I could sleep on a clothesline, and despite the weighty logistics of this, I imagine it’s true. But the night before the Brighton Marathon this was certainly not true.

We had travelled down to a beautiful little B&B in Eastbourne for the weekend (Seaview Guest House, on the sea front, immaculately clean and the breakfasts are delicious.  It also happens to be owned by my big sister, so these comments are hugely unbiased, though click through the links and you will see the amazing reviews!).  I wanted to take the opportunity to spend time with my family and treat the kids to a little weekend by the seaside, and being en route to Brighton, Eastbourne was perfect for this.

For two days I battled with my thoughts.  This was the first marathon I have competed in, I really did not know what to expect.  I was constantly checking the weather updates, checking my race number, the time of the event etc.  Then I would relax, the jitters making way for excitement when I would tell myself to “Just ENJOY the experience”. This quickly darted to one side whilst my mind began to panic about the day ahead. So despite my comfortable surroundings (seriously, check out this B&B, did I mention its number 12 on the Trip Advisor B&B’s in Eastbourne?!), my reassuring husband dealing wonderfully with my snappiness to ANY question (“No I DO NOT want a coffee! Do I sound like I need caffeine??!”) and the glass of wine I had (purely medicinal, you’ll never imagine the shakes you get pre marathon!), I lay awake most of the night, on a night where rest was probably the most important factor to completing a 26.2 mile run…!!

It was a sketchy and rushed start to the day but we were Brighton-bound by 6am. After realising that time really wasn’t going to stand still for me, and that I WAS actually going to have to do this marathon I relaxed and started to suck in the atmosphere of race day.

So as I took my position at the start line (well I say line, the start Corel….I was in the pink one where I had predicted my finish time to be between 4 and 5 hours). I shivered my way to the start dome and prayed that I would get through this injury free.

The first of my niggles began half way into the first mile.  This was something I did not account for. My running tights were catching on my bright orange Multiple Sclerosis Society running vest (worn for the first time). The constant snagging between the good material and the bad got to me until about mile 5 when it became the least of my worries. The sun began to come out.

If you have read my previous posts, you know that all my marathon training has been done in winter conditions.  I have dodged snow flakes, endured awful wind and got soaked to the skin with rain showers.  One condition that I did not train however in was the sun, or rising temperatures.  This was one of the main things about the event I was dreading knowing it was in April and the weather being predictably, well, unpredictable.

You could feel the sense of doom around me.  The first murmurs of “uh oh, here comes the sun” were heard around mile 5, and as the hazy cloud made way for the bright sunshine, we were sweating our way up to mile 13 with not even a whisper of a sea breeze we were promised.

But I was feeling positive.  I was having a strong run and the energy in the crowd was tremendous.  I had managed to get myself in with the 4.30 hour pacers (these guys must be able to do two hour marathons with how cool and composed they were all the way round!) and they kept the mood jovial and the chat chirpy.

Reaching the half way mark was a relief.  Anyone who has run distances will tell you that for the most part the battle is in your head.  And this begins at the half way mark:

“Ok Cols, half way there”

“You are over the half way now”

“It’s only a 13 mile run”

“One and a half hours to go, you can do this”

“Keep thinking of how you will feel when this is all over”

And of course the crowds were beginning to thicken.  This is something that I have never experienced before - literally hundreds of people calling my name and shouting encouraging things to me.  And the boost I needed at that point, my husband shouting the loudest at me and snapping the cheeky picture you can see at the top of this post!

You meet many people on your journey through 26.2 miles yet I could not tell you their names.  I spoke to the experienced marathon runners at the beginning with their Garmins poised for their split times. There were an abundance of charity runners in tutu’s, nappies (yes really – he ran past me!), wigs and morph suits. There were the extreme charity runners in donkey costumes. I passed a man running in flip flops, several people running along with wheelchairs and perhaps the most inspiring, a blind man with Multiple Sclerosis, being lead round the course by two helpers all proudly wearing the same vests I was.

I was lucky enough to see the elite men and women go sprinting along the other side of the road, but my next glimpse of them was to be on telly a week later –sensational finishing times!

Near the beginning of the race, I had been chatting to another runner who had done the Brighton Marathon a few times before.  I asked him where he thought the “wall” was and he said it was around mile 19-20.  It wasn’t so much that I hit the “wall”.  I wasn’t particularly tired, I knew I was near the end (“only a 10k run to go Cols”) and although it was warm, it wasn’t stifling or too uncomfortable.  But there were things bothering me: I was bored, I needed the toilet and I was feeling increasingly sick from all the sugary “energy” drinks and gels I was taking on.  I needed this race to end.

Up until this point I had been ahead of the 4.30 hour pacers I mentioned earlier, but I could hear them gaining on me.  I would be damned if I was going to run all that distance and not get under 4 and a half hours so I drew up as much energy as I could muster into my legs to stride out those final miles.

It was in those final miles the crowds got even thicker, the cries of encouragement became louder.  Runners grabbed their children from the crowds and carried them to the finishing line and tears of joy, relief and pain were pouring out.  All through this I pounded on.  Looking animatedly from left to right for a glimpse of my family but it was just so busy.  I had seen my sister at mile 25 which had encouraged me to run faster, this was a moment to make my family proud.

The 2013 Brighton Marathon welcomed 9,011 runners; I finished in position 4,362 so just about in the first half of the finishers! My finish time was 4 hours and 27 minutes.

I completed my day with proud hugs from my supportive family and after a long drive home, a very large glass of wine!

This was the first time I have ever run a marathon distance, and it certainly will not be my last.  The bug has well and truly been caught and I have found myself frantically looking for the next marathon event to train for. So watch this space……!

*For those of you who wish to still sponsor me for this event I have been raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Please click here to visit my fundraising page.

**My next charity event is on 11th May 2013 and is the London Moonwalk. This is raising money for various cancer charities and involves walking 26.2 miles round London, in my bra through the night! If you would like to sponsor me for this please click here.

***And finally, my sister and I will be running the Eastbourne Race for Life on 23rd June for Cancer Research.  Our team name is the Seaview Sirens and you can sponsor us by clicking here.


I love adventure.  And I have been fortunate enough to have travelled afar to seek this.  I could back then.  My husband and I were a young couple, with reasonable incomes and not a lot to spend them on.  But now our lives have changed. The closest thing we get to adventure these days is climbing to the highest point of a foam climbing frame in a soft play facility. Having a family will do this to you.  And it has also changed our perception of holidays. Gone are the Sydney Bridge Climbs, the Ayrs Rock tours, the flights over the Grand Canyon and the 24 hours gambling in Vegas.  These are now replaced with a damp caravan, soggy chips for dinner and drinking warm wine in a grubby Club House, whilst we look on lovingly at our children dancing with a giant bear and doing the can-can with some ex CITV presenter.

But whilst I have experienced holidays in this country, I have not seeked ACTUAL adventure on my door step.  So when I was contacted and asked to spend a virtual £1,000 on a grand adventure, my first thought was to take my family on a two week holiday driving the coastal route of England, and sampling all the delights our UK seaside towns have to offer. 

I read a book once by a very talented, funny and witty Author Ben Hatch.  The book followed a family as they travelled around Britain in their car and experienced the country of their origin through the eyes of a tourist, not as a resident. This experience opened their eyes to not only the beauty of this country, but to the pitfalls of being a traveller both on our roads, and at close proximity to their loved ones.  I was hooked.  Not only on the book, but on the idea of exploring our country in such a way.

Now this is most peoples idea of hell. A family holiday, travelling around the coast of England and seeing the best our country has to offer. But to me this is perfection. I work full time, I try to workout and be social. I also try to be the best parent I can be whilst doing this but the guilty devil on my shoulder will always take over. Am I spending enough time with my children? Do they really know me? Do I really know them? So my Great British Adventure starts with family values at the forefront. We ARE going to spend time with each other and this is the perfect way.

But where to start?  England really is quite literally a drop in the ocean compared to the other countries I have visited.  My normal adventures overseas would normally start and end at an airport.  This is for me the start of my holiday.  I recall a conversation I had many years ago with a good (foreign) friend of mine.  I was mid-moan about the weather, and the general awfulness of this country when she reminded me that when the sun is shining, there is no better place to be than on a British beach.  When I thought about this she was 100% correct.  And the beach I could picture at that time was Perranporth in the beautiful Cornwall.  You don't get much more British than this County with its cream teas, scones and endless sandy beaches!  So THIS is where I will chose to start my grand adventure, and this will be the start of showing my children the beauty of the country they were born.

I have wonderful memories of seaside holidays with my family.  I also have some pretty awful ones which normally involved the weather. But putting this aside I can think of no better way of spending a virtual £1000 on a great family adventure holiday.

How would you spend yours?

Brought to you by http://www.moneysupermarket.com/a-grand-adventure/

I blogged some time ago about my “bucket list”.  We all have one that we are either working through, or sat there in the back of our minds as a life wish list.  I like lists, so mine are being worked through as we speak.  But I was talking to a peer recently about regrets in life, and about things we have never experienced and it got me thinking.  What have I NOT done?  Does this bother me? Is the list as long as my bucket list?
So with this is mind, here is some of what I HAVEN’T done:

I have never worked in a bar

This may surprise a few people, especially with the amount of jobs that I have had over the years.  But working a bar has never been one of them. 

I admit that the opportunity has never arisen.   But if it had, I don’t think I would have been willing at that time to take it.  And these are for purely selfish reasons.  Why on earth would I want to work somewhere others are having fun whilst I look on through sober eyes?  No thank you. Although that was back in the day when I was in my early 20’s and drinking was a HUGE part of my social life.  If the opportunity came up again, I think I would rather enjoy it…!

I have never felt the urge to have a daughter

Having two boys, the question comes to us on a regular basis – “oh but wouldn’t it be lovely to have a little girl?”.  Mmmm, no not really.  I would feel a bit lost…!

Being the youngest of three girls, I have had my fill of all things pink and feminine growing up.  I have two nieces who I dote on and get to do the hair and nails things with on a regular basis.  That really is enough for me.

When I look at what girls need growing up and heading into teenagers it makes me cringe!!  I also have the added experience of being a girl myself.  I wouldn’t want to wish that on my offspring!

I have never enjoyed Star Wars


I am from the perfect generation who would have enjoyed Star Wars yet I can honestly say I have never sat through one whole film let alone enjoyed it. Being married to a Star Wars fan and having two children who could act most of the films is enough!

I have never worked anywhere other than my home town

This sounds very insular and non-adventurous of me.  I have lost count of the number of jobs I have held.  They have ranged from being very junior and quite senior, and they have all been in one town.  This has not neccessarily been through choice, but kind of just turned out that way and it suits me very much, especially with the demands of a young family.

So there we have it.  This list could of course go on and on, but these are a few of the main things that I have never done and more importantly, not regretted!

What have you never done?

Hugs on the last day of school
Thats me with all the hair!
There has been a lot of talk in the news this week about the nations 16 year olds getting their all -important GCSE results. 

Instantly I am propelled back to that time.  Of waking up early and eager to get to the school office to get my results, anticipating that this little slip of paper could determine my future.  If only I realised back then that the future would hold more worries than I would care to imagine than just this.

It also made me think.  Who was I back then?  Who have I become? Should I be proud?  If only I could have a glimpse in the future.

So 17 years later, here is a letter from a woman, to a girl…

"Dear Colette

I write to you on the morning you are getting your GCSE results.  I know you have worked hard, but I also know you could have worked harder.  You know that.

The friends, who have led you astray these past few weeks I can tell you now, will not be part of your future.  You have bound to be friends forever, and they will also hold a special place in your heart, and you WILL be in contact again.  But for now leave them behind you.  They each have different paths they wish to take.  Give it a few years and you will understand this.

However you do have two friends in particular who will go on to be the best friends you could hope for in your adult life.

When you open your results this morning, please don’t be disappointed.  You have done ok.  Not brilliantly, but ok.  And that will get you started.  You will just have to work that little bit harder at college to prove to everyone that you are capable. 

You are not a natural academic, you will come to realise this in time.  But you do have a lot of confidence and that will count for a lot in your future.  Just keep striding forwards with your head held high, and for goodness sake, wear a pair of heels.  Those clumpy DM’s do not impress anyone!

I know you look in the mirror and see someone fat.  You are not.  The last few years you have been the slimmest you have been for a while.  Just go easy on the chips and mayonnaise at college.  And the beer!  I know you won’t believe this now as you are not keen on exercise, but in the future you will adapt to a healthy lifestyle that makes you love exercise and the benefits it can bring. 

Be kind to the boy that keeps asking to walk you home from school.  I know you are seeing someone else at the moment.  Someone much older.  But this kind, local boy will one day make you the happiest woman alive, and will give you the greatest gift of two wonderful children.  Yes!  Children.  I know you don’t wish to consider children in your future, but they will be there.  And you will be overjoyed.

Stop smoking.  Seriously.  Stop.  They may be cheap now, and it may be a little dark and dangerous habit to impress the peers.  But when you are trying to give them up in the future when they have drained your health and your bank account you will wish you never started.

Dye your hair.  Please.  The bleached front and brushed out perm look really does nothing for you.

Work hard.  Put in all the hours you can and save up as much money as you can.  You have a wonderful life ahead of you and so many nice things to look forward to and pay for…..DO NOT, I repeat  DO NOT apply for that credit card.

Be nice to Mum and Dad.  You may not realise this but in the future when you have children of your own you will appreciate what they did for you and the sacrifices they made.  Think twice before you slam that door.

Ring your Grandparents.  You don’t have much more time left to talk to them as adults.  They are good, kind, knowledgeable people. Pick up the phone, pay them a visit.  They love you more than you will ever know.

Learn how to apply make up.  Seriously, you still don’t have a clue in 17 years time and that “grunge” era did women our age no favours!"

So there you have it.  My older “responsible” self advising the girl I used to be. 

What would you say to your 16 year old self?

Recently, I seem to have a lot of pregnant women in my life.

I am not a midwife, nor anything medical (although I DO work for a Medical company) but many of my friends are expecting their little buns at various stages in the year.

Because of this, a lot of the conversations I have with them tend to lead to their fluctuating hormones and subsequently how it affects the others in their lives.

This got me thinking.  As much as I am a little bt more in control of my hormones than I was when I was pregnant with my little bundles, there are certain things that do affect my mood.  Here I go:

This has to be top of my list as its the place where I spend the most time.

I can be in the best of moods when I awake, but all it can take is to open that first email on Monday morning to alter that in a click of a mouse.

Its not that I dislike my job.  Quite the opposite.  I am lucky that I am in profession which is both creative, administrative, managerial and responsible.  This keeps things pretty varied but I am also a control freak (my words, if anyone else says this I flip!) so if my carefully laid out plan for the day does change direction for whatever reason, this annoys me.  But this is also how it tends to work in Marketing.

I love my family.  They are what inspire me, drive me, love me and support me.  They also happen to drive me crazy sometimes.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, will often see my tweets of dispair when I get in from work and spend the ENTIRE time  (pre bedtime that is) disciplining the kids.  As with work, I can have a brilliant day, and look forward to sharing that with my children and hearing about their day.  Then I will walk through the door and see one sat on the naughty chair, and the other sobbing in the corner after yet another fight and I physically deflate.

This can work in the opposite way of course.  Skulking through the door after a day from hell, I am faced with two gorgeous little cherubs who excidedly fight for my attention to tell me about their day.  It moments like these that I know the reason why I go to work and this makes me happy.

I am lucky that on the whole, I love driving.  The huband and I often bicker before a long journey as to who will be the one to drive.  He often wins because he is a bad passenger and gets bored easily.  But this is fine as I can happily read, tweet and sing along with the kids to keep occupied.

But whilst in the car alone, I am in my element.  The radio is on (loud) and I am happy to drive wherever as long as I have a good radio show and good traffic.

Then it will happen.  The sea of brake lights ahead on the motorway.  A lollipop lady (oh thats a WHOLE new blog post..!).  A push bike too far out in the road or old ladies gossiping at a zebra crossing.  Thats my mood changed.

So aside from hormones, there are things that affect my mood on a daily basis.  What most affects yours?

Like most people in Britain, this weekend was spent enjoying the sun. 

The added bonus of course that I got to spend lots time with my husband and children.  This quality time is somethng that I treasure as I spent a lot of time out of the house (work, nothing too exciting) and therefore away from my family.

Whilst I was in the home, it made me think about how I would be if things were different. If I was able to spend my full time working hours, being a full time Mum and Housewife.

My current role of Mother is polar opposite to how those 1950's housewifey type Mums were portrayed.

I work full time for one.  So I do not have dinner on the table for my hard working husband when he returns from the office.  The reality is that I am walking in the front door whilst my husband and children are finishing their dinner.  I normally rustle up somethng quick and easy for me, and wolf it down before starting the evening chores.  1950's housewifey wouldn't have done that.  She would have been able to produce an amazing meal from rations, whilst looking everso glamourous (so not the smeared mascara and frown lines I seem to sport after a day at the office then?).

There are however, signs that I possibly COULD be that 1950's housewifey if circumstances were different, and actually (feminists be warned...) quite enjoy it.

Yes I am busy from the moment I step through the front door, but I still insist in making my husband's packed lunch up, and my kids lunches.  And as much as this could be seen as part of my controlling nature of knowing they are eating well, its still a nice "Mummy" thing to do.  I can stand with the other Mum's at the school gates knowing that I have contributed just a bit to the lifestyle they seem to lead so effortlessly.

I sort socks.  Yes I moan about this, and spending the best part of an hour recently sorting the socks and a weeks worth of washing certainly didn't inspire me with well being (or to do the rest of the housework, I grabbed a beer instead and watched Eastenders), but again I did feel that I was fulfilling my duty as wife and mother.

When we go away, I will be the one to pack the picnic to ensure we are all fed.  When on holiday, I start the day for my family with a large brunch to fill them up until we (hopefully) eat out.

Its not just the household chores and food. My husband and I seem to have fallen into certain roles wth our family life.

This weekend I was thinking just that whilst watching my two boys trail behind their father walking across the cricket field.  When we sat down to watch I was happily laying back in the sun watching the boys play a game of cricket with their Daddy.

As the kids get older, its clear now that they gravitate to wanting to spend more time with their Dad.  This doesn't upset me.  Their Dad is their hero, this is a good thing.  Im boring.  I sort socks and make the packed lunches up.  But for now this suits us.  For once, I am ready to conform, and embrace the 1950's concept of motherhood and being a wife, with a little modern twist.

i would be interested to know how many of you, given the choice would happily conform the the housewife role?