Mother. Plus size model. Fat Activist. Diet Industry Dropout.
Mother. Plus size model. Fat Activist. Diet Industry Dropout.
Cars are great, aren’t they? Really, they’re fab. Mine is like a mobile disco. All my favourite tunes accompanying me everywhere I go. It has taken me to many many places – some of them a lot nicer than others, let me tell you, but most of the time, my journey is amazing. Except… when it isn’t.
The problem is not the car, the problem is me. The car is a machine, so of course it is going to develop faults. it is going to break down. But the responsibility falls to me to make sure my car is in tip-top condition before I take it anywhere, so I’ve started to carry a standard list that I make myself check before every time I need to go on a long journey.
Okay, so its not technically a car fault and it definitely isn’t going to cause a vehicular break down – but having a handy collection of awesome tunes to belt out as I sail down the motorway is going to curb any road rage that I might have otherwise had, so making sure I have a bangin’ playlist is at the top of my list befor any long distance journey.
Now to get to the real stuff: checking your tyres before you go anywhere is the most important thing to do. The last thing you need is a blowout; not only would it be scary and expensive, but it can be incredibly dangerous for you and other drivers. Thankfully Jet Wheel offers puncture repair services in its local depots, but I like to also make sure that my tyre pressure is in the safe zone and that there is plenty of tread on my tyres. The legal limit for tyre tread is 1.6mm, but ideally it should be 3mm to make sure you will stay safe for your whole journey. Top tip: slot a 20p piece in to the tread of your tyres. Your tread should obscure the outer band of your 20p – if you can see where the outer band begins, you should look in to getting new tyres.
There are five fluid levels that need to be checked before any long drive. This needs to be done while the engine is still cold, and while the car is on a flat surface. The five fluids that should be your priority before any long drive are oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and your windscreen washer fluid. And yes, I have to Google them too before I do them. No shame in checking you’re doing something properly!
Again, it isn’t a technical issue – but I like to make a list of every service station and petrol station I’m going to pass along the way so that I never get caught short – in terms of petrol, and my own bladder! I also make sure I have the details of my recovery vehicle/breakdown assistance service to hand because if I don’t, I will almost definitely break down in the middle of nowhere with no 4G to look it up.
The last thing I like to check is that every light in the car is doing what its supposed to be doing. This includes my indicators, my break lights, and of course my headlights and fog lights. If I don’t have a handy teenager around to stand outside of my car and let me know that they’re working, make sure I pull in close to my house and test my lights at night so that I can see them shining on the building.
What are your handy hints to make sure your car is in tip top condition before you travel? Let me know if you think I’m missing anything – and have a good journey!
Dating. It’s a weird thing isn’t it? No strings or long term – pretty much everyone does it at some point in their lives. For most of us, we meet people we kind of are attracted to, spend some time getting to know them, find the one we dislike the least and that’s pretty much it – before you know it, you’re married with a couple of kids, a car you can’t afford and a house in the suburbs that always needs something doing to it.
But what if that’s not for you? No one expects everyone to like the same music, or food, or football team, so why on earth would we all fit nicely into the same “relationship box” as everyone else? It’s becoming more and more socially acceptable to step outside the norm and break away from more “traditional” relationships. No strings attached dating is seemingly more prevalent, with participants able to enjoy fun and varied dates with people and no commitment on either side.
I have a friend – a former boyfriend actually – who would describe himself as poly. It’s absolutely the right thing for him, he loved the idea of an exclusive, loving relationship, but every time he found himself in one, he panicked and bolted. (Take a wild guess at why we broke up?!) Now he lives very happily by himself, (he was always something of a loner) although he has a wife and a regular girlfriend (they both know about each other) and they all have casual partners along the way. Would not work for me ever, but they are all happy and who am I to say that they shouldn’t do what makes them happy?
Another lady I know uses a variety of dating apps and sites and meets new people all the time for no strings dating. She is beautiful and funny and would make a wonderful wife or girlfriend for some lucky man, but she prefers the single life. She doesn’t want to have to answer to anyone, while at the same time, likes to have companions for fun nights out and quiet nights in. No strings dating works perfectly for her. It means that there is always someone available when she fancies a meal out or a night at the movies, but the only towel she has to pick up off the bathroom floor is the one she dropped there herself.
Some people are unlucky enough to be trapped in marriages that they can’t easily walk away from. Let’s face it, no one gets married thinking that one day it might break down irretrievably, but in the real world, sometimes that is what happens. For a multitude of reasons, it’s never quite as simple as saying “well that’s that then” and walking away unscathed. In the current financial climate, it can be harder than ever to end a marriage in which both parties can just about afford the house they share . Splitting up and having to each fund a home individually might not be an option. So how do you cope with that? Stuck in a marriage with a person you once loved but now is actually stopping you having the life you want? In that case a marital affair might bring some relief and be the answer to at least one of the many issues faced.
You would think this kind of thing gets easier as you get older, but I’m here to tell you it really doesn’t. I’m 52, and next month I will have been married 23 years. We have been separated for longer than we were together. (See what I mean about ending a relationship sometimes being really complicated and difficult?!) … what’s next? I have no idea what’s good in the world of over 50s dating, but I’m sure when I am back on the lookout there will be plenty of places I could meet single men who also want companionship and no strings nights or maybe a full on committed relationship.
Ultimately we each have to find our own way in the world of dating and relationships. Only you will know what works for you, what makes you happy and what you’re not prepared to put up with. Don’t settle – think about what you want and work out a way you can have it.
We don’t judge here at She Might Be. No one knows what anyone else is going through in life – we believe in live and let live, so long as everyone is an adult, everything is consensual and no one is getting hurt. Life is too short to be anything other than happy.
Dating is a tricky game in the 21st Century. Gone are the days of twiddling the cord of the phone as we giggled our nights away full of joyful glee – instead, our love lives are laid bare on flat touchscreens, and it can be pretty daunting. You wouldn’t be criticized for thinking that modern dating was nothing but Tinder hook-ups and the latest Love Island hashtag, but in reality it is far more nuanced than that. There is a dating website for every kink and every preference – and, most importantly, there is an entire section of the internet that is dedicated to over 50s dating. If you’re hovering over the ‘join’ button on a senior dating site, here are 5 things you need to know before you jump in to the dating pool!
1. Be transparent about your goals and aspirations
Whether you’re dating for a quick fling or because you enjoy the comfort of having somebody with you, be up front about what you need – otherwise, you’ll never know if somebody wants the same things as you! If you have short term goals and dreams, like swimming with sharks or other wild things that people decide to do, let your date know. They might want to make plans to join in with you, and if nothing else, he or she is going to get some amazing inspiration for planning future dates
2. Keep your profile to the point
There’s no point in trying to think of cutesy ways to describe yourself. “Good things come in small packages”? Petite. “More to love”? Plus size. If you’re planning to meet these people (and lets get real, hopefully be naked around some of them!) they are going to see what you really look like. Be really upfront about who you are and what you demand in a partner. You shouldn’t settle for anything other than your ideal, and you should give them the opportunity to find their ideal too.
3. Allow them to read your life story
A wonderful friend once told me that you don’t get to our age without having a little bit of emotional baggage. This can be from previous relationships, difficult times in our lives or simply living on our own for a number of years. The important thing to remember is to make sure that a new partner feels included in that history. If you’ve been married before, don’t be afraid to say that you have loved passionately and wonderfully in a previous chapter – because now you’re living in this chapter, and you’re ready to love that way again. There is no need to hide previous elements of your life ‘pre-date’ – if you have met the right person, they will feel connected to your history and appreciate that it brought you to them.
4. It doesn’t need to be ‘happily ever after’.
Lets be honest: we’ve lived long enough to know that not every relationship needs to lead to bouquets and confetti! If you’re looking for a new life partner then that is wonderful – but don’t be afraid to say “actually, I just want something for right now” and stand firm on your feelings. If you end up meeting a happily ever after during your time using dating sites, then congratulations! And if you end up meeting a variety of wonderful people who share some fantastic times with you and help you add some happiness to your memory bank, then congratulations on that too!
5. Just say yes!
Forget about who you think you should be. Dating a new person is an opportunity to take more chances, and to shine a light on avenues within yourself that have always laid dormant. Obviously if you really don’t want to do something then that is absolutely your right, but if you find yourself intrigued by an idea and then a voice in your head tells you “no… I shouldn’t” then shut that voice up and say yes I should!
Dating isn’t always magical and full of wonder. Sometimes you can scroll through pictures and have nobody stand out. Sometimes you’re just not going to be feeling the people who are messaging you. But I think the most important part of using a dating website is actually standing up and saying “I am here, and I am ready to be vulnerable”. Dating new people is allowing yourself to be free, and to explore the world in a way you have never done before. Congratulations, person who is about to begin your dating journey! I hope your time is exciting and safe and life-changing. Happy Dating!
If, like me, you feel like your teeth maybe aren’t as pretty as they could be, there are a multitude of ways you can make you smile sparkle again.
For me, years of drinking tea and fizzy pop – not to mention acidic fruit juices, has left my teeth slightly less than lovely. I’m currently looking at different ways of improving my smile – have you ever considered any of these?
This is a service offered by most dentists but you can also buy kits online that you can do yourself at home. I would always say read the instructions, make sure you understand what you’re supposed to do and don’t deviate from that. I haven’t tried any of these kits myself, but I believe they have a cumulative effect – so you will need to repeat the procedure several times to get a good result.
Clip- on Veneers
I keep seeing ads for these pop up on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. At first glance they look okay, but on closer inspection, they do look very, very fake and my goodness they are costly – especially if you splash out and get both the top and bottom set. Personally, if I was going down this route I would have to get both sets, or the sparkly shiny new ones would just make my existing uncovered row of teeth look worse!
Porcelain veneers can help disguise all manner of dental issues, everything from crooked & discoloured teeth, to gaps and broken or chipped teeth. The veneers are handcrafted, usually wafer thin and can very quickly rectify cosmetic problems, leaving you with a smile you will want to show off. Places such as Harley Street Smile Clinic offer free consultation, so you can check out all your options before you decide.
Would nicer teeth make you smile more? I don’t know if I would smile more, but I would definitely smile bigger if I went ahead with any of these solutions.
Now Spring is out of the way (no more Spring cleaning for another year, woo hoo!), thoughts turn to Summer and if budget dictates we are having a staycation, how we can cheer up our living environments for less. Let’s face it, if we can’t afford a fancy foreign holiday, shelling out for some designer decoration is not going to be cost effective either.
Here are some ways you can ring the changes without having to first ring your bank manager to re-mortgage.
A couple of matching towels in bright colours will always bring a hint of Summer – how about some sunshine yellow ones or maybe some sky blue? Or one of each. Things don’t always have to match!
Well, flamingoes and pineapples are still bang on trend and plenty of the shops have cushions with these exotic designs, so you can Summer up your sofa for only a couple of quid. Alternatively take a look at my recent article about murals for some really cheap ways to change the whole aspect of a room.
This is really the heart of any home, isn’t it? Ours is really a hive of activity – not only do we cook and eat in there, obviously, but recently it has been the revision hub and it has also been known to be a home hair salon on more than one occasion.
There are so many ways you can spruce up your kitchen without breaking the bank. I know we would all love a newly fitted kitchen, but have you ever considered replacement kitchen doors? A whole new look for a fraction of the cost of a new kitchen.
Ikea has a brilliant kitchen section, where you could invest in some new cutlery or crockery or you could splash out at Kitchen Warehouse and order yourself your dream kitchen.
I am always keen to treat all the senses, so for your bedroom, I ‘m going to suggest some candles or wax melts in suitable Summery soothing smells – think sea breeze and line dried linen. Again, the supermarkets are a great source for bargains of this kind – Asda has a great budget friendly range of homewares.
What are your top tips for celebrating summer while sticking to a budget? Jump in the comments and let me know!
I don’t know about you, but I love interesting and unusual art work and decoration. Murals, paintings, prints – even mixed-media art. I like my home to feel individual and unique, somewhere that really reflects mine and my family’s personality. I like bright colours, paintings with words and if there is a practical purpose to my purchase, even better. We all love a bargain and what better than something that is useful but at the same time, really easy on the eye?
Once upon a time, I ran two online greetings card stores. As out reputation grew, we started selling overseas – mainly to the USA, but also as far afield as Australia and Japan. We really wanted to get a big world map, for our office wall, so we could track our progress and somehow mark every country we sold to.
We spent a lot of time looking. Most of the maps we found weren’t quite big enough. A lot of them weren’t quite pretty enough. Functional, but not at all attractive. Also popular are maps that record your travels, with a thin coating, similar to that on a scratch card, the idea being that every country you visit (or sell to in my case), you scratch that country off.
So there were lots of options, but none that were quite right for us. If only I had discovered Wallsauce sooner! Cast your eyes across this beautiful mural. It’s not the most detailed one available from this firm, but my gosh it’s gorgeous – a real explosion of colour.
There are so many different world map murals available, there’s bound to be one (or ten, or twenty!) to suit your style and your home. There are ancient maps, modern maps, political maps, factual ones and some beautiful stylised murals.
They’re not just pretty either, they are really practical. Got a child studying geography? There’s a mural for that. A toddler just getting to grips withe the alphabet? yep, you guessed it – there are several of those! Always dreamt of a wall of books in your home, like your own personal library? Fake it until you make it with one of these library themed murals – and there are a fair few to choose from.
Even better, all of the wall murals are made-to-measure and available on several different quality wallpapers including peel and stick. That would be an aabsolute godsend for people like me who rent our homes. There are literally thousands to choose from, in loads of different categories (not all maps!) for example : animals, transport, patterns, landscapes, music, pop art, space themed, ones for children, religious murals… the list goes on! All of them stunning and as individual as you are. There are a whole host of designer options available and (this is the absolute best bit) YOU CAN UPLOAD YOUR OWN IMAGE. I mean, who DOESN’T want to be wallpaper, am I right?
I have seen so many murals that I absolutely adore and bear in mind I have only been looking online at this site for about ten minutes. I already have easily another dozen that I would like to show you, it’s much easier if you just head over there and take a look for yourself. I would arm yourself with the measurements of your wall first (instructions for that are on the site and added bonus they are really straightforward) because I am sat here really frustrated that I can’t place an order immediately!
Also, word to the wise, if you order before May 20th (hurry!) using the code SPRING20 will save you 20%. Happy shopping!
Founded in 2001 by Paul Barry- Walsh, Fredericks Foundation is a registered charity and a Responsible Finance Provider. Their main focus is to facilitate loans for people who have a viable business proposition, but would struggle to obtain financial support in the conventional manner from mainstream lenders.
But Fredericks, or “Freddies” as it is known to it’s loyal, tireless supporters, is about so much more than just sourcing a loan. Financial backing is wonderful and obviously needed, but this is also about support, advice and guidance. There is so much help to be accessed – advisors, specialists, mentors. Think of it as a hand up, rather than a handout. As their mission clearly states : “Choice, not charity”.
The person behind this meaningful organisation, Paul Barry-Walsh has had personal experience of trying to start a small business, and being held back due to lack of funding. He knows first-hand of the struggle and setbacks. This left him with a desire to help others finding themsleves in a similar position and thus Fredericks Foundation was born. Their motto – NOW YOU CAN – says it all really.
Since 2001, Freddies has helped literally thousands of people take those first steps, get a foot on the ladder and climb out of poverty, gaining dignity and self-respect on the way. It’s a virtuous circle, creating a society based on community and support, where everyone rises by lifting others.
What Freddies has coming next is of particular interest and inspiring to me. As a single mother and a staunch believer in women supporting women, this happening in the Centenary year of women getting the vote, makes my little feminist heart very happy.
Beginning this month (May 2018), Freddies is launching a crowdfunder and it is such a simple yet innovative idea, I can’t wait to get involved – and there are many ways we can all contribute. The aim is to build a Women’s Loan Fund, which will lend small amounts of money to women. As they repay, other women are then able to receive help from the fund. Freddies believes that this is a sustainable solution to the lack of affordable start-up finance available, specifically to women.
To me this is exciting and groundbreaking – Freddies are helping break down barriers and once they have removed what is stopping growth and innovation, they then help plant the seeds and cultivate the crops – but they aren’t doing this FOR the applicants. Freddies are working WITH the women who need the help, it’s very much a team effort rather than a charity handout.
How YOU can help.
There are a few ways you can get involved and make a real, solid difference to someone else’s life. First of all, take a look at this video (created by Big Yellow Feet, a Fredricks client) which explains the Crowdfunder.
There are many volunteering opportunities within Freddies. Mentors, fundraisers, panel members to help decide who can get a loan. Do you have any transferable skills you could pass on to womeen starting out in business? I bet you do! If you would like to know more about volunteering with Freddies, please contact Peter Kelly, Volunteer Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s a well-worn cliche, but it’s true – every donation, no matter how small helps, because they all add up. We could all play a small part in something bigger – something amazing. The Crowdfunder for the Women’s Loan Fund is launching any day now, but as Freddies is already a registered charity, you don’t have to wait to donate. You could set up a regular standing order donation straight from your bank or – if you are already in business yourself and want to help others get where you are – join the 1% club, donating 1% of your company profits per year.
Lend a lump sum to Fredericks via the government CITR scheme and earn 5% per annum tax relief. This is a five year commitment at the end of which the loan is repaid or rolled over.
This is my favourite, because it doesn’t cost you any extra at all. If you already shop online, you can do your usual shopping, but sign up for Give as You Live, which at no expense to yourself can turn every £ that you spend on line into funds for Fredericks.
This is probably the most important one and again, it’s free – spread the word. Tell everyone you know. Tell your wife, mother sister, daughter, aunt! Tell your boss. The loans are designed to help women but men can also be involved, contributing, supporting, sharing.
Fredericks Foundation are laying the groundwork for a sharing, more caring society. Businesses built on support and encouragement, where you’re given a hand up and then you reach down and pull the next person up.
At a time when more people than ever are feeling disadvantaged and disenfranchised and there is next to no support from the people in power – how amazing that Freddies are here to put the power in YOUR own hands.
Hands up if you’re a parent with teenagers soon to be transitioning from secondary school to Sixth Form College? Keep those hands up if the holidays feel just a little bit too long. Do your kids spend their free time with little drive and next to no sense of purpose, unless it involves an Xbox or a smartphone? Pull up a chair, National Citizen Service (NCS) might be exactly the thing you and your family are looking for. (No, it’s not national service, I’m not trying to recruit your little darlings into the Armed Forces!)
I’ll bet you have questions – I know I did…
So firstly, what’s it all about?
National Citizen Service is basically a summer camp for young people aged 16-17. That is it in a nutshell and yet it is so much more than that. Participants are from across the whole of England and Northern Ireland, from a wide variety of backgrounds and social settings.
It’s a fun way to instil some community spirit in your teens, emphasising our similarities rather than our differences. A way of bringing out the best in the next generation, showing them the way to be more focused, well rounded adults.
How long is the programme?
It’s a two to four week event which always takes place within school holidays.
What does this event comprise?
Each event is made up of four sections – team building exercises, which are mainly based outdoors. A residential stay where our intrepid participants learn valuable life skills in an unfamiliar environment. A community based social action project – here the teens will see their efforts in action and will realise the benefits of contributing to their local community. And finally, a celebration event to mark their progress and achievements.
Actually no, you would be surprised – I know I was! The price is £50 all in – that’s food, accommodation and travel expenses – isn’t that great value? For those of us that would struggle to find a spare £50 (and we have all been there, there’s no shame in it), bursaries are available and applications are assessed on a case by case basis. Of course if your child has additional needs, help will be available for them.
Not only is it amazing value, but pound for pound, more money goes back from National Citizen Service into society – for example – for every £1 spent, NCS’ 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society.
So your kids learn new skills, and society reaps the rewards. It’s win win!
Is this a new thing?
Relatively. It is less than ten years old but in that short space of time, almost four hundred thousand young people have taken part in the NCS experience and more than seven million hours of community action have been undertaken – so while in essence it is a fun, learning experience, it’s also incredibly worthwhile.
What’s the catch? Come on, there has to be one.
I can see why you would say that. I was a bit sceptical too, but I have really looked into it and talked to my own kids and their friends and I can’t see a down side. Everyone benefits. At a time when the world seems to be more divided than ever, something that brings us together like this can only be a good thing.
Would you let YOUR teens do this?
100% YES! I am signing my sons up just as soon as I have finished writing this piece. I think it will be good for both of them in different ways.
Kids, particularly teenagers on the brink of adulthood need to know that they can be in control of their own futures. They can BE the change they want to see. National Citizen Service will help equip them to be productive, compassionate members of society.
But don’t listen to me – have a look at what these young people are saying about National Citizen Service:
Jamie, 17 feels that NCS will be a new experience where he will learn skills for life.
Charlea, 14 thinks the NCS is a brilliant thing. ” I am hoping to join the NCS programme. I want to go because it’s a week away with my friends and then the following 2-3 weeks to spend time with them as well. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing new things like living away from home for example. I am hoping that within the 3-4 weeks my self confidence will grow and I’ll hopefully face some fears. I can’t wait to go, it seems like so much fun and a really good opportunity to learn new skills and possibly make new friends. I think NCS will be a real eye opener for a lot of people and I’m very excited to experience it.”
Alex, 15 is keen to be involved. He says “NCS will help with team building skills and making new friends. I think it will come at a good time for me, when I have just finished school and just before I start college – like a stepping stone to a more adult routine. Bring it on!”
I think as many young people as possible should be given the opportunity to participate in NCS. With a little help and encouragement, we can all be the difference. Ready to get your teens involved and help them feel unstoppable? Give them what it takes to succeed. There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer. To sign up now, go to the National Citizen Service website. Go for it and watch them flourish!