Category: Life and Living

My pandemic life – the story so far

Hey! How is everyone? Hopefully you’re in good health and staying safe, wherever you are in the world.

I’ve read a few insight posts into people’s life during lockdown, and I find them quite fascinating, so thought I’d do my own. It will act as a diary entry when all this is nothing but a distant memory!


I’ve been working from home for 7 weeks now. I was only 6 weeks into my new job at the time, so still fairly new to everything anyway. My employer acted really quickly – one day they were setting everyone up with the tech to work from home for a one day trial, and we just never came out of it. It wasn’t a huge change for me, as my role isn’t 100% office based anyway, but still a new way of working with everyone completely remote and only available by phone or video call. There have been frustrations as people try to adapt, but on the whole it’s worked out pretty well. I’m super lucky that I can carry out my role from home, and also that my employer doesn’t intend to furlough anyone, so I am grateful.

The husband is now furloughed, this is his third week, and there are times when I’m a bit jealous as he watches a film and I’m in the middle of another Teams meeting, but I just need to keep remembering that I’m fortunate!

Truth be told I’m thankful of the structure that WFH brings me. It means I still have to get up early every morning for our daily department call, I can’t have afternoon naps, and I don’t have a load of excess time to fill. When I was made redundant a couple of years back I had a lot of time on my hands, and that was much more difficult.

Eating and drinking

Eating out is one of my pleasures in life – not necessarily fancy restaurants, just good traditional pub food, bars and eateries. We eat out at least once a week, and it’s a highlight. So that’s been a big change for us. Our local indian takeaway closed after about 3 weeks due to Coronavirus, but luckily we’ve found another even nicer one. Chinese takeaway is out of bounds due to the husband’s gluten intolerance, but we do have a local restaurant that does Malaysian and Thai dishes which are gluten free, so that’s stepped into the breach.

Outside of that we’ve been doing burgers at home on the barbecue (thanks to the good weather), and truth be told Mr G cooks a better burger than any I’ve ever had in a bar or fast food place.

We bought an airfryer just before lockdown, which does the most amazing fries and, surprisingly, steak! So a weekly steak night has become a thing, with peppercorn or blue cheese sauce, and the added indulgence of truffle oil fries.

I seem to have slipped into a bit of a “we deserve it” mentality so there has been pate, multiple types of cheese and crackers and all the crisps – the kind of thing usually reserved for Christmas! But food is a big pleaser for us, so in the absence of other things, it’s worth it to make us happy.

Gluten related rather than lockdown related I have a list of things I want to try that the husband can eat, including cheese scones and flatbreads (we didn’t eat cheese scones before he was GF, so I’m not sure why they’re on my list now!) I made black pudding scotch eggs for the first time yesterday (we had to order gluten free black pudding online from the Bury Black Pudding Company – it’s really worth it if you’re a fan).

As for drinking, well I’m drinking too much and too often, and that’s that!


My first thought when I have time to myself is that I’ll fill it with books, but so far I’ve only read three.

RSVP by Helen Warner
A chick lit book with a bit of a difference. 4 different main female characters whose lives intertwine, and not always in a positive happy way. It was a nice read, not too fluffy!

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter
This was a (requested) Christmas present, but I saved it for a time that was worthy, if that makes sense (I do that with much anticipated books). So, a few weeks ago, on one of the first Sundays it was warm enough to sit in the garden, I read it cover to cover.
I’ve been a big fan of Dawn for years, from her early television days, and read another of her books The Cows on holiday last year. I really enjoyed it, although didn’t like the characters as much as in The Cows which had a bit of an effect. Dawn is a fab writer though; I look forward to reading more of hers in the future.

Sisters by Rosamund Lupton
An oldie published back in 2010, which I picked up in Poundland. A psychological thriller and murder mystery all in one with a really great twist at the end I did not see coming. I read it cover to cover in one sitting (the best way to read a book, I find) which is testament to it’s un-put-downability.


I’m not a huge film and TV watcher, because I get distracted fairly easily! That said, there have been a few things recently that have really captivated me, and meant I didn’t reach for my phone once!

Gangs of London
A new 9 part series following a criminal family and their dealings – both legal and illegal. Very brutal and violent (with a couple of hide behind the cushion moments), but a brilliant watch.

After Life Season 2
I was so glad to see that this had made a comeback, after the absolutely brilliant first series. I wasn’t sure how it would fare, in view of how the last season ended, but it was as funny, heartwarming, heart wrenching, and tear inducing as season 1. I laughed, I cried, I snotted. Absolute brilliance and realism from Ricky Gervais.

This is a new series from Tim Minchin, about a man trying to drive across Australia with a piano. He ends up with an unexpected companion along the way and the 8 half hour episodes follows their journey – literally and emotionally. It was another laugh/cry/do both at the same time series, and I highly recommend you put it on your list (we binge watch it in one night).

I have spent most of my adult life thinking I’ve watched this film, and agreeing with people in conversation about how great it is. We watched it yesterday afternoon, and it turns out I have never seen it! I thought I had because I’ve seen some of the iconic scenes, but for the main I had no recollection so it was all very exciting and new! Now I can genuinely say it’s a really great film. Never have I seen a film with Robert De Niro that wasn’t fantastic.


I’ve settled into a similar routine of shopping once a week, which is unusual for me as I’ve always been a little and often type person (I go to the supermarket about 3 times a week with a basket rather than once a week with a trolley). Now though I’m trying to limit my outings, for obvious reasons. I’m also shopping for my mother in law, who is 80, and her next door neighbours/long time friends who are also in their 80s, and one of them has cancer. So off I go with my 3 lists – first to Lidl, then to Asda, then to a local shop for any bits that I couldn’t get at the supermarket. Mother in Law is a Daily Mail reader, so it’s with gritted teeth that I’ve been picking that up for her, and then delivering the shopping to both houses by leaving it on the doorstep.

None of them have left the house since mid-March, and I know it’s getting to them, but I’d rather them be safe than risk popping out for a loaf of bread.


When lockdown started, one of the first things I was upset about was that my garden wouldn’t be full of pretties this year! Yes, I know it’s petty, but my garden is my hobby and knowing we’d be spending a lot of time at home meant I wanted it looking as nice as possible. On the plus side, the local shop I go to once a week also stocks a plethora of plants and I’ve picked stuff up from the supermarket during my weekly shop too, so I’ve been able to pot petunias, fuschias, geraniums and more. It’s a small thing, but it brings me joy, especially as we won’t be getting away on holiday anytime soon.

We bought a fire pit right at the beginning of lockdown too, so it’s been good to spend evenings outdoors with the warmth of the fire.

I’ve also worked on a small project that’s been brewing for ages, which I’ll share soon.

Things I’m missing

Family, obviously! It’s been a godsend being able to video call them, especially seeing my nephew as he’s started to crawl, but nothing makes up for a physical hug.

Afternoons in the pub with friends. You know the type; sunny days, overcrowded beer gardens, a buzz in the air, rounds of drinks, trays covered in booze and overflowing ashtrays. Who knows when we’ll be able to socialise that way again?

Holidays. Unusually we hadn’t booked anything prior to the virus hitting the UK, so haven’t had to cancel anything, but not knowing how things will progress for the rest of the year leaves uncertainty about whether we’ll be able to get away. I don’t think there’ll be any overseas travel this year, certainly not in the summer anyway, but hopefully we’ll be able to get away in the UK.

Our campervan! Strictly speaking I can’t really say I miss this, as we haven’t yet camped out in it, but I miss the freedom it would have given us. We’d certainly have used it at least a couple of times so far already this year with the unseasonable good Spring weather we’ve had. On both bank holidays we’ve reversed it up to our garden gate and used it as a little get away space for drinks, naps and even eating a takeaway but we’re yet to use it to its full potential.

Again it’s trivial compared to what many families have been going through, but I think in such a strange and uncertain time all feelings and emotions are valid.

Things I haven’t missed

Wearing a bra! 6 and a half weeks without one!

Wearing make up. Same timescale as above. Just goes to show that all that talk about women wearing make up for themselves is rubbish! I’ve never been the kind of person who won’t leave the house without make up, and because I’m not going anywhere apart from to the supermarket and delivering groceries I just haven’t bothered. Now it’s been so long I can’t help but feel I’ll look stranger with it than without!

Hairdressers. I’m scared of hairdressers and haven’t been to one in about 13 years. I was feeling a bit bored by my appearance so I gave myself a 6 inch chop and some layers through the front.

So, how’s everyone else getting on? Has your routine changed much? I’d love to know!

And thanks, as always, for reading. x


My husband is gluten intolerant

It’s recently become apparent that my husband is gluten intolerant. He’s always been a bit “loose of bowel” shall we say (sorry if TMI!) but we thought that was just him. More recently we started noticing patterns of stomach troubles when we’d eaten something particularly wheat heavy (fajitas, pasta bakes) and I suggested it may be wheat related. A few other symptoms later and I started to read more into it. I became convinced he had coeliac disease.

He went to the doctor with his symptoms, and she immediately said he’d need to be tested for coeliac. He was keen to start cutting out gluten immediately. But all of the resources say you shouldn’t do that until you have a diagnosis. You need gluten in your diet in order for your body to react to it so you can get an accurate test result, as advised by Coeliac UK and all other health organisations.

The good news is, he isn’t coeliac

The bad news is that the nurse who gave him his results was completely dismissive of all the symptoms he has. She pretty much sent him on his way. He’s going to book a follow up appointment with a doctor to discuss further. Meanwhile, we have self-diagnosed him as having Non Coeliac Gluten Intolerance (NCGI). I know self diagnosis isn’t ideal, but it’s all we have right now. We’ve come to this conclusion because he’s cut gluten out completely and is already feeling heaps better. So there has to be something going on.

The thing about NCGI (and coeliac) is that it’s untreatable with medication. That means a diagnosis doesn’t really benefit you in any way. All you can do is cut gluten out of your diet.

There are two aspects to finding our you’re gluten intolerant

One is the practical side of things (cutting out gluten containing foods – more stuff than you would realise), and the other is the emotional side. The husband is, understandably, struggling somewhat. He keeps realising things he won’t be able to eat from this point forward and I guess, in a way, he’s in mourning. Food is a big part of our lives, as is eating out, so there’s a lot to think about.

Since this all started I’ve gone into research overdrive. I figure that the more information I have, the better I’m armed to deal with this for both of us. I do the food shopping and the cooking, so non gluten containing ingredients are my responsibility. While the husband is dealing with the emotional side of things, I can be the practical person working out what all of this means and – more importantly – how we’re going to face it with as little impact as possible. For people living together any kind of food intolerance is obviously going to impact both/all of them; both in and out of the home.

My advice if your husband is gluten intolerant

(Or your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, housemate, mother, brother, sister – you get the idea) is to do your research. Find out as much as possible about gluten containing foods. Look for gluten free replacements where available. Most supermarkets will have a gluten free section in their dried, refrigerated and freezer sections. The choice is much much better than it used to be. Decide how you’re going to tackle it as a household. For example, we’ve both switched to GF bread, purely because I don’t eat a lot of bread anyway. It doesn’t make sense to have two types in the house and, more importantly, I don’t want to contaminate things like butter and the toaster with GF containing breadcrumbs.

I have pretty much deglutened (not a word, but you know what I mean) our house, just to avoid accidental consumption by the husband while he’s getting to grips with it all. Soups – a lunchtime staple for him – have been carefully checked to make sure they’re ok (many tinned soups contain wheat flour, so his daily choice has been severely curtailed). Condiments have been cleared out – if it’s got gluten in, it has no place in our cupboards. My supermarket shopping trips now consist of avidly reading labels for suitability (helpfully, all allergens are shown in bold in the ingredients list, so there’s no need to read every single thing in detail).

Personally I’m taking this as an opportunity to be more food aware…

…and also as a little bit of a challenge (that sounds like I’m getting enjoyment from it, which obviously I’m not). I’m determined that he won’t miss out on some of his favourites just because of the dreaded G. There’ll be things I’m going to cook from scratch where previously we may have bought pre-prepared or takeaway. While he comes to terms with it all, I’m on hand with a GF version wherever possible. It’s a learning curve, but we’re in it together.

I’d love to hear from you if your husband is gluten intolerant (or you, a loved one, etc!) Going forward I’ll be sharing my GF finds and tips with you as well.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x


Thinking about my Dad

It’s been 3 years, 4 months and 8 days since my Dad died. I don’t count the days and weeks, but a quick mental calculation when I started planning this post was easy enough.

3 years, 4 months and 8 days is a long time. Try imagining 3 years into the future. Its impossible. Or think about the past 3 years. I’ve started and finished jobs, moved house and been to new countries. All things I would have discussed at length with my Dad.

So why this post, after 3 years and 4 months and 8 days? It’s not like I don’t think about my Dad daily. But sometimes, like at the moment, I think about him intensely. Almost all consumingly.

It’s all circumstantial, I know

I’ve been job hunting and interviewing and I know I would have had pre-interview prep talks with him, and post interview dissections of how it all went. He’d have been super excited that I got my job offer and a pay rise. So there’s that.

I also saw a Facebook memory of when I got my Dad tattoo, while he was still alive, so he would get chance to see it (he was pretty underwhelmed, tbh, Dad wasn’t a tattoo lover!)

My Dad tattoo

There’s also the presentation I had to do in my current job about my life (sounds a bit weird eh?) All staff have to do a 5 minute session about their background, childhood, family, likes and dislikes. I guess it’s to help you know and understand your colleagues better. I thought I’d get away with it, being on a 3 month contract. But I thought wrong.

Anyway, I’ve known since before Christmas that I had to do this presentation, although I didn’t finalise it until the night before it was due (what can I say, I work better under pressure!) I’d been mentally planning it for a while. And I knew I had to include a section about my Dad, and his illness, the late diagnosis, and his scuppered plans for an assisted death if that’s the route he wanted to go down. It’s such a big part of my life and who I am that I couldn’t not acknowledge it. It was also an opportunity to bring the Dignity in Dying message to a captive audience.

I was surprised by how emotional I got telling my Dad’s story in front of what is, essentially, a group of strangers. My voice cracked, I had to fight back tears and I didn’t remember all the things I wanted to say, but I had people come up to me afterwards and say they agreed that a change in the law is needed, and other people who shared memories of their own parents when they were alive. It was good and bad, and happy and sad all at once.

It’s just a mindset

You may have read my posts on grief and talking about death, and this is neither. It’s just a mindset. A mentality. A thought process and awareness that I’m going through.

Not that I didn’t already know it, but it’s been a deep and intense reminder that my Dad’s death changed my life; not just through him not being here anymore, but through the impact he had and continues to have on me consciously and subconsciously.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x


2019 in review, with highlights!

As the New Year approaches rapidly I always think it’s interesting to look back at the 12 months that have passed. Not in a congratulatory or self-pitying way. Just as a round up and reminder. And of course to pick out my 2019 highlights.

I couldn’t possibly do my decade in review, because that would be way too long and detailed, but needless to say the biggest and most life changing event was losing my Dad. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to lots of places and build a strong marriage (at the beginning of the decade I was fairly new to being a wife, whereas now I’m a veteran!)

In a nod to the decade “thing”, I will post a comparison pic – it’s actually my old vs new passport photo. I’m not doing too badly!

2009 vs 2019 - passport photo

My passport, on the other hand, is no longer European, sob…

So, 2019!

I started the year full of gusto, in a new job that felt very promising and full of great people, with travel plans afoot (as always) and hoping for another incredible summer after the great wonder that was Summer 2018.

I’m ending the year feeling a little more jaded, in a different (temporary) job; having learnt life lessons, employment lessons, and intuition lessons. If something feels wrong then it probably is! That said, an amazing Christmas holiday has made me happy and content, and that’s the most important thing.

2019 highlights

Every year has its ups and downs, and 2019 was no exception. But when I think of the best things, off the top of my head, these are the three that come to mind.

The birth of my nephew

After a really shitty pregnancy during which she was pretty much constantly poorly, and a 3 day labour, my sister gave birth to a 10lb 2oz beautiful baby boy by C-section on Saturday 27th July. It’s my first time being an auntie and it’s filled me with a new sense of pride and delight. Jacob is a joy (now he’s stopped crying when he sees me, and rewards me with smiles instead!) Being part of his first Christmas was incredible. I love him so much!

2019 highlights - my nephew

Easter weekend in Paignton

This was totally unplanned and very last minute! The weekend before Easter we were watching Four in a Bed on TV and I said how nice it would be to have a short break at the English seaside. We haven’t been to Paignton for many years. The husband has happy memories of childhood holidays there, so we found a B&B and off we went.

Last time we were in Paignton it was quite run down. Lots of places were closed and not much going on. We were thrilled to see there’s been some investment in the area, with seafront pubs reopening and lots of people around. It helped that the weather was unseasonably excellent for Easter. We went to the zoo, went on a steam railway, went on the fairground, met up with friends who were staying in Torquay, and had an absolute blast.

2019 highlights - a weekend in Paignton

Read about our weekend here.

Buying a campervan

The highlight about this was seeing my husband’s face as he lived a childhood dream. He’d gone on and on AND ON about it for months; looking for the right one and umming and aahing about what to do. Then we found Bodhi Bongo at the end of September. We picked him up in early October, and have already had some great times with him. No overnighters yet, but watch this space in 2020!

2019 highlights - Mazda Bongo campervan

What are your 2019 highlights? Thanks, as always, for reading!


We bought a campervan!

Of all the unusual things I’ve bought over the years, (a pair of maracas from eBay when drunk, for example, I didn’t know I’d bought them until they arrived a few days later), I never thought I would (part) own a campervan. You see, I’ve never been camping, or had any desire to do so. I’ve never stayed anywhere without a toilet and shower under the same roof as my bed. Yet here I am, indulging my husband’s dream, and feeling rather excited about the prospect!

His previous childhood itch, of owning a Harley Davidson, has been scratched. As beautiful as his bike is, it’s sitting mainly unused in our garage as the UK road conditions get worse and biking becomes less appealing to him. Now it’s time for childhood dream number two; a campervan, a mini home on wheels that will take us up hill, down dale and everywhere in between.

Most people associate campervans with the iconic VW, but that wasn’t an option for us. Original (old) models are rare and often unreliable, while the newer ones are hugely expensive.

Instead we’ve gone for a Mazda Bongo.

A what, I hear you ask? I’d never heard of them either, and admit that the name is quite comical. But the husband, being the nerd thorough fellow he is, has been researching campers for a long time. He confidently announced to me that the Bongo is the way to go. It also has a bit of a cult following, and a real community on hand to help. There are dedicated Facebook groups regular real life meet ups organised around the country.

Bongos were never sold in the UK market. All the ones on the UK roads have been imported from Japan. Sold as an 8 seater utility vehicle over there they’re prime for all sorts of conversions; with owners adding cupboards, beds, cookers and more. The DVLA is reportedly getting stricter on reclassifying newly converted vans, so we went on the hunt for one which had already been converted to our needs.

Introducing Bodhi!

The Bongo community is big on naming their vans. Whilst ours will be known as “The Van” in the most part, we had to give it an official moniker as well. This comes purely from the husband, who has a love of the film Point Break and the main surfer character Bodhi, played by Patrick Swayze. Bodhi is also a Sanskrit name meaning “awakening” or “enlightenment”. The Buddhist concept of Bodhi is spiritual awakening and freedom from the cycle of life, which seems pretty apt (if all goes to plan and I take to campervan life!)

Bodhi has a sofa which pulls out into a full length bed, a two ring gas cooker, a fridge, a table and a sink. His roof lifts up sideways, which is quite unusual, but gives us full height for standing up all the way along the van. He has a leisure battery to power the electrics, but he can also be hooked up to a mains electricity point on a camp site! He has interior lights and plug sockets, and cupboard space for storing essentials.

Where to?

I mentioned in my last post that the Jurassic Coast is on my travel hitlist. The husband has already found a campsite with seaviews overlooking Durdle Door, so that’s pencilled in as a to-do next summer. In the meantime we’ll find our campervan feet, work out what kit we need (I didn’t know that portable compost toilets were a thing, but having one of those in an awning next to the van rather than trekking across a field in the middle of the night after too much wine makes much more sense), and start our foray into freedom on wheels!

I also get to buy important pretty things!

Things like cushions, rugs, duvet covers, and fairy lights! Although this is proving more stressful than I thought, as we try to decide on a theme. Decorating a small space is a big responsibility!

Here’s me when we collected him last week.

I’m sure there’ll be many more Bodhi posts as time goes on; from interior pictures to our adventures!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x


30 days has September…

30 days has September - autumn coloured leaves on a wooden surface

…and some of those days will be sad.

It’s 3 years on the 12th of this month since my Dad died, and 3 years on the 30th since his funeral. While I’m mostly able to deal with him not being around on an every day basis, special days and anniversaries still hit me hard. And not just on the day either; I can feel the change coming in the lead up. It probably isn’t perceptible to the outside world, because I try not to show it, but there’s a shift in my thoughts; the frequency with which I think about Dad (even more than normal), the way in which I think about him (how he suffered, what he’s missed since he’s been gone), and how bloody unfair it all is.

Grief is an ever changing beast, and there’s no handbook, so you just have to get on with it and know that it will pass.

Of course September will have happy days too!

It started particularly well with a weekend away in Sheffield with bands, music, friends and fun (and, amazingly, no hangover!) The highlight will be next week, a week in my favourite place in Greece with my husband (thanks to Airbnb cancelling our New York accommodation!), during which we’ll celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. Sadly that date is also the day Dad died, but maybe having something to celebrate helps to alleviate the pain a little. We’ll also be in a place that was very special to my Dad, a place he loved, so we’ll raise a glass of wine and eat amazing food and remember him fondly. Then I’ll probably cry and fall into bed drunk!

I’ve posted before about my general disdain for September anyway; purely because it signals the end of summer and beginning of autumn (which is NOT something to get excited about, no matter how much people try to persuade me!) but having a week in the sun to look forward to certainly takes the edge off that.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x


A life update, and why it’s good to talk

It's good to talk : Wooden scrabble tiles spelling life with text "a life update"

If you’re in the UK and *ahem* of a certain age you might remember the BT adverts with Bob Hoskins declaring “it’s good to talk”. Bob was advertising telephone services. I’m not. But his sentiment is absolutely bang on!

I’ve had quite a lot going on in recent weeks. A weekend away at a festival, a weekend away in Norway, work stuff, family stuff and just stuff. It’s fair to say that my mental health hasn’t been at it’s best. Not in an “I’m going to hide away and not face the world” way. Just feeling a bit jangled and not quite right. It’s hard to explain unless you know, but I’ve been living with my own head for long enough to be able to pinpoint when it’s off kilter. There’s often nothing you can do…just ride it out.

Father’s Day

A contributing factor to the way I’ve been feeling is very likely to be Father’s Day. It’s my third Father’s Day without my Dad this year. It’s a difficult time anyway, but when I’m feeling a bit jangled, I miss him even more. He was a very calming influence in my life and really helped me at times when I was frayed, stressed or angry. He had a way of making me see things more logically instead of my self internalised, often overreacting, often self pitying way. He was a very sensible man, and he was very good at helping me to rationalise.

Now, it’s not that without my Dad I don’t have anyone to speak to. But, for some reason, I have built it up in my head recently that I don’t want to speak about the stuff that’s being going on in my life. So I’ve kept it all in my head, building it up to oversized proportions, feeling like crap, convincing myself that no-one can help me like my Dad could, and basically being a bit of a drama queen! Unfortunately for the husband, he’s been on the receiving end, which is pretty mean of me and for which I have since apologised.

Good news – after reaching boiling point earlier this week, I talked! Well, not so much talked as spewed forth a whole heap of anger, vitriol, stress, upset and frustration. I cried. And I shouted. I said “and another thing” quite a lot.

It’s good to talk

I feel heaps better.

As well as reminding myself that it’s good to talk, I have reminded myself (or been reminded) not to take things personally, not to feel attacked, and that it’s ok that I’m not 100% perfect or successful in everything I do.

Will I remember these lessons? Probably not. But it certainly makes for a happier me in the short term, which makes for a happier husband too!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x


The assisted dying conversation is still so important

Meadow of flowers with text "Assisted Dying"

I haven’t posted about assisted dying for a while.

OK, so I haven’t posted much of anything for a while, but let’s gloss over that!

Like many supporters of

, and believers in a change in the law to allow terminally ill people autonomy over their death, I was gutted when Noel Conway’s latest legal battle was unsuccessful in November.

Noel has been an unending powerhouse in fighting for a change in the law. Suffering with Motor Neurone disease, and wanting the assurance that he can end his own life when the disease becomes too much for him to bear, he has been through court cases and appeals, all with the support of Dignity in Dying. In November the Supreme Court – the highest in the UK – ruled that he could not appeal against an earlier ruling that he could end his life by assisted suicide at such time he deemed fit.


This leaves Noel in the situation of either waiting for his disease to kill him; a slow, dignity stripping and painful end, or seeking an assisted death elsewhere. The current choice of destination for Brits wanting to end their own life on their own terms is Dignitas in Switzerland.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ll know that my Dad wanted the option to travel to there rather than be ravaged by a late stage diagnosis of prostate cancer. What he actually wanted, underneath all of that, was what many terminally ill people want – the choice to end their life on their own terms, in their own home with their family around them, With that not being an option, Dignitas was the next best thing for him. Unfortunately his GP blocked the necessary paperwork he needed, on legal and ethical grounds, leaving Dad to face the very end that scared him most.

Geoff Whaley

Fast forward then to this week, and the heartbreaking case of Geoff Whaley and his family. Geoff too had motor neurone disease, like Noel Conway. Geoff feared the disease taking away any sense of living in his final months. Being alive is so different to living, and that wasn’t what Geoff wanted. So he made plans to travel to Dignitas and have control over his death.

I did not fear death, but I did fear the journey. When I eventually got the ‘green light’ from Dignitas, a weight lifted; I was able to get on with living without the constant mental anguish over my death.

This is the key for so many people who want the choice of assisted death. Fear hangs over them and overtakes every day – days when they could be making the most of the time they have left. My Dad was a living example of this; he was consumed by wondering how ill he would get. Would the cancer take his mobility? Would he end up bedbound? Unable to go to the bathroom? Would his death be everything he didn’t want it to be?

Horribly, for Geoff and his family, someone made an anonymous phonecall to the authorities to alert them to his plan. Imagine involving the law in a dying man’s wishes? Imagine the selfishness and self-centredness that would lead you to try and turn a dying man and his family into criminals?

Criminal charges

Because that’s one of the major issues here. Anyone who assists a person to make their way to Dignitas and end their life can face a criminal investigation and up to 14 years in prison. Geoff’s wife had made the arrangements for him because his disease had already stripped him of the use of his hands to make the calls and send the emails himself.

Thankfully, although a small mercy, the police decided not to proceed with any criminal charges. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Geoff’s final weeks were blighted by the threat of investigation and criminal charges against his family.

Geoff travelled to Switzerland with his wife, children and close friends. He ended his life independently by drinking a cup of water laced with barbiturates.

Tellingly, his wife Ann said:

I wish the law let me have him for longer.

Geoff, like so many others, had to end his life earlier than he may have wanted to because of logistics. He had to be well enough to travel to Switzerland. Had the UK law been different, Geoff would not have had to expedite his death for fear of missing the opportunity.

In a last show of strength, Geoff wrote an open letter to MPs. In it, he implores them to consider the real effects of the law on real people and real families.

No family should ever have to endure the torment we have undergone in recent weeks.

You can read the full letter here.

The reason that people like Geoff and Noel fight the fight is not for themselves. It’s for the future of other people who might find themselves in such a position. And their fight isn’t without results.

Change of heart

Although every assisted dying bill has so far been overruled in the House of Commons – the most recent being the bill brought forward by Lord Falconer in 2015, the tide is turning. Some MPs are becoming vocal in their support for a change in the law. Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, who I listened to in Parliament last January as he spoke of the potential for an assisted dying law to be exploited, and therefore his inability to support it, has now come out with a very different view.

He concedes that, with safeguards in place, assisted dying could be a viable legal option for terminally ill people. He has publicly gone on record as saying he is now in support of looking at the law surrounding the controversial topic.

There’s still much to be done. Change won’t come overnight, and nor should it. But the fact that high profile cases such as Geoff’s are making politician’s think more about the situation and how they themselves might want to proceed with the same circumstances can only be a good thing.

RIP Geoff Whaley.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x


Changing reading habits

Changing reading habits - teddy bear reading a book

My reading habits have, as an adult, always been fairly predictable. I like fluffy chick lit. I’m not ashamed of it either. I’m more than capable of deeper, more meaningful, insightful reading. But there’s something about the cosy warmth of a book where you know, in the first few chapters, that two of the main characters will end up in a relationship. Wondering how they’ll get there but knowing they will. It’s a personal indulgence, and I rarely deviate.

18 months ago though, during our week in Greece, I did deviate! Unusually, for me, I squeezed some paperbacks into my luggage (I’m usually too laden down with shoes and have been relying on an ereader in recent years. But it’s just not the same). And our apartments had a swap bookcase, where you could leave your read books and pick up something left by another visitor. Weirdly my eye was drawn by The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.

Changing reading habits - my first thriller book (The Couple Next Door)

It didn’t give me the usual immediate squishy feels. The contrast between the high drama of the book and the relaxed nature of lying on the beach and occasionally paddling in the sea was strange, but I devoured it. I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter, the next twist, and find out what the ending would be. I always read voraciously, but in a “predictable” book (and I say that in the nicest possble way) there isn’t the same intensity and urgency.

I’ve discovered a whole new enjoyment of literature

In case you haven’t read it, the premise of The Couple Next Door is around the kidnap of a baby which has happened while the parents were next door having dinner with their neighbours. They have a baby monitor with them and they’re only footsteps away, so what could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, as the book goes on to detail, with twists and turns right up until the very end. Thriller fan or not, I would definitely recommend it!

What effect have these changing reading habits had on my choice of books since? I now actively seek out thrillers as an alternative to my set ways of reading, and I have to say I can’t get enough! I stock up for bargain prices during charity shop binges so I always have a pile to get through.

Do you have a genre of choice when it comes to reading? Have you read The Couple Next Door? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x


5 things I’m looking forward to in 2019

Things I'm looking forward to in 2019 - young smiling girl running through field with text "things to look forward to in 2019"

I don’t buy into the whole New Year thing. It’s just another day. A passing of time. Only the fact it comes with a new set of numbers really changes it from the year before.

That said, here are some things I’m looking forward to in 2019.

I’m going to be an Auntie!

By far the biggest thing to happen this year, my sister and her boyfriend are having a baby, due in July. I’ve already known for quite a while. I went to their private 10 week scan just before Christmas which was just beautiful.

Things I'm looking forward to in 2019 - baby scan

They’ve now had the 12 week scan and everything is as it should be. I was amazed, even at 10 weeks, to see the detail in the scan, the shape of the baby and it’s little stumpy arms and legs! As you’ll know if you’ve read this blog for a while I have no maternal feelings at all! That said, I cannot wait to be cool Auntie Kel, buying all the shoes and having fun days out with my niece or nephew.

My job

Sad but true! This sounds like bravado but it’s honestly not. Getting made redundant from my previous job last year was one of the best things that could have happened to me. It made me reassess what I want from a career, and what I want to put into it. I’ve only been in my new role since November, but already I feel more motivated than I have in a very long time. The company is very forward thinking, I’m already looking after a brand, and I know there are lots more good things ahead.

My garden

To say 2018 was the year of the garden is an understatement. Our garden makeover combined with one of the best summers I can remember in years meant I was outside as much as possible. From early barbecues in April through to planting bulbs as late as October, I took every opportunity to be in my happy place.

Things I'm looking forward to in 2019 - flowers and pots in my garden

The joy of seeing plants come to life and everything look so pretty will never fade for me. Really hoping for more of the same this year!

More holidays and seeing more new places

This will hopefully be on my list of things to look forward to until the day I die! Unusually we’ve started the new year with nothing booked or even planned. This is mainly due to the Brexit uncertainty and not knowing what effect it will have on the travel industry. That said, I am currently researching a trip to Bergen in Norway. It’s my Mother in Law’s 80th birthday in June and she’s always wanted to visit the fjords.

Things I'm looking forward to in 2019 - seeing more places (coloured houses in Bergen)

Basing ourselves in a city then doing trips out on the water seems to offer the best of both worlds, so I’m 90% sure that will happen.

As for the rest of the year…who knows? (the husband keeps telling me he doesn’t want to do long haul flights anymore. There’s some work for me to do there!)

Whatever other opportunities come my way

A bit of an ambiguous one this, and not just because I’d run out of things to look forward to! More so that we’re only 6 days into the new year, so who knows what lies ahead in the next 359 days? Things can change so quickly and dramatically that there could be events and plans out there way beyond my comprehension. Isn’t that part of the fun of this wild journey we call life?!

What are you looking forward to in 2019? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x