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I’ve spent the last few weeks immersed in the world of Paul Weller, the Kaiser Chiefs, The Charlatans, The Basement Jaxx and James. That’s not a line I ever thought I’d be writing in a blog post.

I’m currently managing the social media for the Umbria Rock Festival. It’s a little bit epic. It also makes me sound super cool in the eyes of an eleven year old even if she doesn’t actually know most of the bands.

What better job can than to be and to listen to music all day, all in the name of research, while tweeting rock bands?! (Note is does involve a little more work than that!).

Best of all it has reintroduced me to the world of music, which I’ve missed. So used to listening to IJ’s pop music and X-Factor’s finalists, I’d forgotten there was decent music out there.

Soo my life is currently a rather bizarre, yet exciting, mixture of new business ventures, pampering gifts, rock stars and festivals. I love the randomness of it all. I’ve also fallen back in love with James (the band) and discovered Paul Weller several decades after everyone else.

So I thought I’d share some of my recent discoveries, all from bands performing at the Umbria Rock Festival this August, naturally.

James Walk like you. A stunning and beautifully haunting song from their newly released album, La Petite Mort. You’ll want to play it on repeat.

A boppy dance song from Basement Jaxx, first released in back in 2006. Loving the lines: I don’t care what people say, I’m going to do it my way. Do your thing.

Paul ‘The Modfather’ Weller and Amy Winehouse performing I Heard it Through the Grapevine on Jools Holland back in 2008. Bittersweet.

The Only One I Know – a classic from The Charlatans and one that HAS to be played on full volume. Totally awesome.

Blumming love Ruby the Kaiser Chiefs!

Any other bands I need to add to my dusted down iTunes account, let me know!

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View from the park bench

I’ve spent the afternoon working in the park – one of the perks of working from home. Rather unexpectedly I was joined by a group of 30 school children, all in high spirits at the end of term. They decamped a short distance from me by a pair of trees so the teachers could sit in the shade while the children ran around.

It was while I was watching them play with footballs and tennis balls and playing tag (or is it tig?) that something occurred to me. There wasn’t a computer screen in sight. Yet here they were laughing and squealing, happy and carefree.

IJ doesn’t do that enough. Play, that is. Most of the games she plays are via a computer screen – the Wii U being her latest obsession, with Minecraft a close second.

I thought she’d gone past the point of typical children’s offline play (the only play we knew when I was growing up). But yesterday, on her birthday, it wasn’t her new gadgets she wanted to play with. It was her loom bands and Polly Pocket yacht that stole her attention. She spent hours playing with them, often asking me to join in.

Loom bands

Thinking about it, getting creative with loom bands is probably the first time we’ve really ‘played’ together in months. Too often solitary computer games have taken over.

So watching IJ enjoying her ‘non-screen’ presents yesterday, thinking about the hours we’ve both spent making bracelets from loom bands, and watching the school children running around outdoors has taught me something. Play is still incredibly important and we need to do more of it. Cue the tennis racquets.

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The Fear

by RosieS on July 15, 2014

Playing Pooh Sticks.

I started writing a slightly sentimental blog post the other day marking IJ’s eleventh birthday. It started off by mentioning how difficult the early days were and how daunting and bewildering it can be when you’re on your own with a newborn.

It reflected a little on our more difficult early years when I was still adjusting to the immense responsibility of single parenthood and, to be frank, not doing that well. And it mentioned that when you come through the dark times, the good times – like now – shine far brighter.

Towards the end I included a message to anyone in a similar situation to the one I was in eleven years ago – bringing a child into the world on their own – that yes, it’s hard, and yes, it’s exhausting and slightly terrifying. There’s still a huge stigma attached to single parenting that needs to go, and at times you will feel that negativity, but do what you can to ignore anyone who questions your life, your family, your choices. Those people have not walked your path. They are not you. And you are stronger than you think.

I ended the post by talking about the two of us now, eleven years on. One adult and one child in the same household for over a decade makes for an incredibly close, secure relationship, like no other.

Then, talking about my gorgeous eleven-year-old daughter, how proud I am of her and how far we’ve both come together, in every sense of the word, The Fear kicked in.

The fear that every parent experiences at some time or other. The fear that comes with having something incredibly precious in your life.  I don’t really need to say any more.

So IJ is celebrating being eleven, and I’m reflecting on our journey of the last eleven years. An incredible one, not without its bumps in the road and the occasional crater, but one we’ve shared together, just the two of us.

With the worry and fear that comes with being a parent, come so many happy moments too. I’m going to try and focus on them today. And eat lots of cake.

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My Plan B

by RosieS on July 11, 2014

For the last six months or so I’ve been working away in the background on a project I hope I’ll still be working on in five years’ time. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking and a big leap into the relatively unknown. And I’m loving every minute of it.

I’ve been referring to it as my plan B for some time. Here’s a sneak peak at what it involves:

Pamper Parcels box.jpg

You see, given the uncertainty that can go with working for someone else and the incredible stress that goes with losing your job suddenly, I decided I wanted to take more control over my future and create something that was 100% mine.

So as hinted at in a previous post, I’ve set up my own business and it’s almost ready to launch. It’s an ecommerce venture, drawing on my background in retail and digital, selling pampering gift boxes, like this one:

Pamper Parcel 2.jpg

The mission is to encourage everyone to take a little time out from the daily grind and enjoy a little me time, because life is busy and we often don’t make time for ourselves despite the enormous health benefits of doing so.

I’ll be offering a range of gifts and treats you can order for yourself or have delivered through the post to someone else, for a variety of different occasions or just because.

Pamper Parcel 1.jpg

But these will be pampering boxes with a difference. Every single product included in the parcels has been carefully sourced to ensure that it gives something back, in some small way, to nature, to the environment, to workers in developing countries or to local communities.

So the products included are a mixture of natural, organic and Fairtrade plus those sourced from small independent business.

I’ve always called it my Plan B. Now it has a name – Pamper Parcels – and it launches next month.

Pamper Parcels Black Logo FB.jpg

Come over and join the pre-launch excitement on Facebook, Twitter,  Google+ and Pinterest!

Special thanks to my designers Chloe at Poppi Design and Katie at Supafrank who’ve done an awesome job.

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First day at secondary school

by RosieS on July 2, 2014

Toddler playing trains

I’m not quite sure how it’s happened or if I’ve imagined it, but IJ has just walked out of the door for her first day at secondary school.

That can’t be right. Only yesterday, it seems, she was playing on her three wheeler bike in the garden. Not long before that we were playing with the sand pit she got for her third birthday. And it can only be a year, I’m sure, since we used to sit and watch Peppa Pig together. I still know all the lines from series 2.

Yet here we are. At the beginning of a brand new chapter. A huge change in our lives. Time has flown and without me realising it, the conversation has turned to blazers and tutor groups while I’m still talking about Cbeebies.

Today IJ is spending a full day at her new secondary school with the rest of the future Year 7s ahead of the official start in September. I refuse to think that far ahead.

Thankfully, for IJ, she’s got a lift to the school with a friend’s mum. I can’t be trusted apparently not to give her a kiss – or something equally horrific – in front of her friends at the school gate. Worst still I might spot toothpaste on her face. You know the rest.

So instead she’s travelling there with friends and won’t return home until late. Like ships passing in the night, I’m then off to the school for the parents evening where we’ll hear about what to expect over the next seven or eight years.

I’m excited for her, naturally. She’s at the start of an exciting new chapter in her life.

It’s all good. Except today, for the first time, I can’t help feeling incredibly old. I might invite my three year old nephew around. He might me happy to talk about Peppa for a couple of hours.

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The Parenting Twilight Zone

June 30, 2014

I’ve decided there’s something that exists in the world of parenting called the Parenting Twilight Zone. I’m standing in it right now. It’s the time that exists between your child being in the care of one responsible adult to being in the care of another. The time during which they are totally responsible for themselves […]

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Reflecting on blogging

June 29, 2014

As someone who has been blogging since the days when you had to explain what a blog was and absolutely no one had heard of a hashtag let alone used one, I’ve been pondering recently about how much blogging has changed over the last five or so years and looking back, with fondness, on the […]

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Living in the here and now

June 23, 2014

Life can change in a heartbeat. I hadn’t really appreciated that until recently. Many people will already be all too aware that one phone call, one email, one text, and life can turn on its head. In a flicker, something you had – and all the excitement, hopes and dreams that went with it – is gone. […]

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Win £500 for your top holiday budgeting tips with Caxton FX

June 18, 2014

Caxton FX is looking for your Top 10 Tips for budgeting for your family holiday, with a prize of a £500 charged Global currency card for the winner (which would probably mean you don’t have to budget quite so hard for your next holiday, I’m thinking). So if you’ve got some holiday budgeting tips the […]

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A night of cricket at the Kia Oval: the NatWest T20 Blast

June 16, 2014

When the England & Wales Cricket Board offered us tickets to watch Surrey vs Sussex at the Kia Oval in London, it brought back lovely memories of attending one-day cricket matches as a family when I was younger. Despite not knowing a lot about cricket then, and still not knowing a great deal now apart […]

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