Things I Have Been Prioritising Above Blogging

 

  • Writing the first draft of my novel;
  • Watching ‘Designated Survivor’ on Netflix;
  • Writing the second draft of my novel;
  • Telling everyone about the novel I am writing long after everyone wishes I would shut up;
  • Getting bored of the second draft of my novel and declaring it finished well before it is up to scratch;
  • Re-watching ‘Coupling’ on Netflix;
  • Spending many hours compiling a long list of literary agents to whom I can send my novel;
  • Tentatively embarking upon watching ‘Mad Men’ on Netflix;
  • Reading ‘The Cows’ By Dawn O’Porter;
  • Re-writing the second draft of my novel;
  • Sending my novel to one of the agents on my list;
  • Getting ‘the fear’ and chickening out of sending novel to any further agents for fear that it is actually a pile of shite;
  • Re-writing ending of novel for fifteenth time;
  • Questioning whether I even know how to use a semi-colon;
  • Pondering the likelihood that despite not knowing how to use a semi-colon, I have used it far too liberally;
  • Committing to a nightly Brain Training workout;
  • Wondering why my brain is so slow to add quite small numbers together;
  • Researching wholesome family meals to cook, before making self Dairylea sandwich for dinner (for seventeenth time in a month);
  • Sourcing videos of goats jumping on trampolines to calm Phoebe down when she is having one of her (infuriatingly regular) tantrums for reasons I cannot fathom but which could be because I looked at her wrong;
  • Googling ‘why am I vomiting once a month?’;
  • Googling ‘when do babies start saying actual words?’;
  • Vowing to overhaul lifestyle, specifically by taking up yoga and taking joint-easing supplement regime to combat worryingly achey wrists (from too much novel re-writing and not enough sending to agents);
  • Tidying up crayons and colouring books and small peg-people and stickers from every part of the house;
  • Having early nights;
  • Researching copywriting courses;
  • Psyching self up to enrol on and pay for copywriting course;
  • Chickening out of everything;
  • Hiding under blanket, watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix.

And here we are.

As you can see, a rich and rewarding personal life I lead.

Tally ho!

Some Issues I Have With Children’s Television

 

Specifically, the following programmes on CBeebies.  Phoebe doesn’t watch any other channel because my fingers just automatically type 121 into the remote control even when it’s 8.30pm at night and I want to watch Netflix.  It’s muscle memory, like how even when I’m not hungry the first thing I do upon arriving at my mum and dad’s house* is open the fridge door.

On the whole, as a disclaimer, I really do have a lot of time for CBeebies.  I have no guilt whatsoever about letting Phoebe watch it; it’s fun, morally upright and allows me to eke an extra twenty minutes of sleep out of the early hours.**

However.  Some of the programmes just gosh darn get on my wick.  Alex is getting tired of me muttering “God I freaking hate that sap Bing” from beneath my pillow every morning so I thought, why not take my discontent to a larger stage?

I of course use the word ‘larger’ figuratively.  I will also of course be sending Alex the link to this post so he can experience my ire in text as well as verbal form, because my love is boundless.

What is Wrong With Postman Pat?

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Why are the residents of Greendale and Pencaster still entrusting Postman Pat with their special deliveries?  I’ve gotta tell you, my friends, the man is absolutely sh*t at delivering stuff.  Like, I get that it’s the only career really open to him because he’s invested good money now in the outfit and the van, not to mention his Special Delivery Service helicopter, jet-ski, plane, boat, snowmobile, motorbike and forklift, but seriously, does he not have a superior?  Does he not have someone who could take him aside and say:

“Listen, Pat.  I know you’ve been doing this job for 35 years now.  I know that to many in the village of Greendale, you are like family.  Especially to your wife and children.  We absolutely don’t discount that.  It’s just that…have you maybe considered the fact that you are a terrible, terrible postman?  No no, don’t get upset, it’s not a reflection on you as a person – you’re a diamond.  And to be honest Pat, in the early days, back in the 80s, when you just had a bicycle to get around on, it was completely understandable that occasionally you might not deliver the occasional letter or parcel on time.  But it’s 2017, you have an aircraft hangar full of really fast vehicles – which, by the way, really aren’t suitable to take a cat on, but whatever, let’s focus on the main issue here – and let’s be fair, Pat, you are only asked to deliver one parcel a day.  Usually within Greendale.  I know that involves passing a field of sheep, but sheep really aren’t as troublesome as you make them out to be.  Come on, Pat.  Amazon are delivering, like, billions of parcels a day and customer expectations are really high.  Yes, I know that it’s always an ‘unusual’ parcel, but if Amazon can deliver a corner sofa using just a drone then you can definitely manage to get a pumpkin to your kids school’s Pumpkin Disco without accidentally dropping it into the sea.  The fricking SEA, Pat.  I just think that maybe…and hear me out…maybe you’d be better off selling the private plane and retiring early?  It’s a young man’s game, after all…”

It’s A (Sodding) Bing Thing. 

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I was enamoured with Bing the first time I saw it.  In hindsight I put this down to significant sleep deprivation and the perhaps misguided notion that if someone as talented and highbrow as Mark Rylance was providing the voice, then it must be quality programming.

But then I realised that this was a ruse to make me overlook that fact that Bing is just THE WORST.

I haven’t shouted “WILL YOU MAN THE F*** UP YOU WET RABBIT AND USE YOUR WORDS!” since Monty Don went through his sullen phase.  And what is up with Flop?  Is he Bing’s parent?  Is he some sort of toddler-rabbit social worker?  Is he even related to Bing?  I can only assume he is being paid a footballer’s salary to look after him because surely nobody would put up with that level of whining and general wetness for anything less than a mil a week.

Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures (AKA A Really Ineffective Use Of A Time-Machine)

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For those of you who don’t know, Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures is about a guy who works in the Natural History Museum, though in what capacity I am not sure/wasn’t paying enough attention, who has access to a grandfather clock which takes him back in time to amble and frolic with the dinosaurs.

Side note: I have checked with my sister, who works at the Natural History Museum, and she has confirmed that the grandfather clock in question does not exist.  At least, it’s not in the alcove the show portrays it to be in.  She has acknowledged it may well be in a cupboard that nobody has opened in a while, though.

The basic premise of each show is this:

  • Andy’s boss/colleagues announce their ‘amazing’ new ‘exhibition’ featuring an exquisitely rare dinosaur egg/feather/bit of nest;
  • The hapless cleaning man vacuums/sweeps up the egg/feather/bit of nest whilst everyone’s backs are turned;
  • Andy dithers over what to do to remedy the situation, and takes an alarming amount of time to remember the time-travelling clock;
  • Elaborate prehistoric adventure ensues as he recovers a REAL egg/feather/bit of nest;
  • All ends well, with not a second to spare before the exhibition opens.

My point is this: instead of taking CONSIDERABLE RISK in returning to prehistoric times (we’ve all seen Jurassic Park: the consequences of stealing dinosaur eggs are harrowing) why does Andy not just use the time-travelling clock to go back in time and just stop the cleaner being too vacuum-happy?  Or even better, why doesn’t Andy go back a little further and suggest that the cleaner pursue a different vocation in life?

Greendale is looking for a postman, probably…

Xx

PS I know that all of this would make for far less interesting telly, but credibility is so important to toddlers these days.

*Or, really, any house

**Or, really, any hours

 

Can’t Fight The Mumlife

It’s not as though I ever imagined I would be a particularly glamorous mum, per se, it’s more a case that when I saw bedraggled looking women lumbering around on the school run I always thought “I want to strive for better.”  Better being – in an ideal world – someone who would take care of everything else that saps precious time and energy in the mornings, enabling me to unhurriedly leave the house well-dressed, fragrant and with a well-fed and enthusiastic child in tow.

Mmm.

This morning was not my finest hour.  I was quite excited to be able to try out the BareMinerals BB cream sample I’d picked up yesterday, thinking that any miraculous multi-tasking product that would save me time in the morning would be a boon.  So I slapped that on, wrestled Phoebe into a romper suit, before discovering the romper suit was wildly inappropriate for a brisk March day, so changed her again into something more suitable at which point she employed her traditional mode of expressing her displeasure and threw herself backwards, slamming her head on the door.

Crying.

Then I hustled us downstairs, thought I’d treat Phoebe to an uplifting walk to nursery as I’m got a day off and time to spare, so strapped her into the multi-way trike, grabbed a slice of toast and slipped into my (expensive) new pumps.  We’re off!

Except that because Alex bought the stupid Focus and parks it on the drive, my car doesn’t properly fit on there as well, meaning that there is barely enough space for a person to squeeze through between the car and the tree, let alone a person AND a rather unnecessarily bulky tricycle, complete with big flappy sun canopy.

So out Phoebe had to come, and I dead-lifted the baby and trike over my head, over the car, and then reassembled them on the other side.  Possibly adding to the massive dent in the BMW but meh.  Who cares?  (Answer: Alex).

Then realised I’d forgotten to lock the front door.

Finally on route, anyway, and Phoebe was happily munching away on her toast when I realised I could smell something really weird.  It took a few moments to realise it was my FACE, and that the BB cream was obviously having some sort of special reaction to my skin.  What that might look like, I was not sure.  Also, my new shoes were rubbing.  Badly.

Dropped Phoebe off, started the special walk back home pushing an empty tricycle along the road, just in time to encounter the phalanx of teenagers walking to school and entirely filling the narrow path.  Also, my shoes had, at that point, become unbearable. Only solution was to take them off and walk in my stripy socks.

Chemical reaction still taking place on my face.  But it’s hard to tell if teenagers are staring because skin is peeling off or just because that’s what teenagers do.

Realised that there was a piece of toast leftover in Phoebe’s tray, and the walk and the stress was making me hungry.  Reached forward for the toast, but the steering on the (actually quite shonky) trike is terrible.

Steered trike and self into bush.  Sea of Teenagers had to swerve to avoid me, but managed not to break their stride/conversation about Ryan Reynolds.

At that point, shoeless, with melting face and bits of bush attached to my jumper I kind of just gave up, chomping my soggy piece of toast defiantly and sort of wishing my legs were small enough for me to just get in the bloody trike and ride it home myself in a blaze of terrible glory.

But I didn’t.

If Phoebe ever gets a scooter though, watch out for the crazy lady scooting along with the wind in her (birds-nest) hair and a piece of Hovis hanging out of her mouth.

‘Tis me.

X

 

How To Get Gorgeous Skin in 2017

I wouldn’t necessarily blame you for giving me the side-eye here – it’s not like I’m the poster girl for incredible skin.

But let me assure you, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has used more skin products than I have over the past two decades.  And I’m one of those people who won’t try anything without reading anything and everything I can get my hands on about it beforehand.  Reviews, blogs, articles, medical journals…..(only occasionally, because they are a bit dry, and I prefer my information in handy bullet points).

It’s only this year, however, that I’ve started treating my skin properly.  And by that, I mean treating it as a whole, instead of aggressively attacking break-outs or random dry patches or whatever else might be going on.

I did a bit of research (read a few blogs, trialled a few sample-sizes of posh products) and decided to implement Operation Spa Face.

(Operation Spa Face coincides with Operation Phoebe Bath, so it’s not as relaxing and rejuvenating as, say, a weekend at Champneys.  But it’s pretty damn close.)

Operation Spa Face is based upon a simple 6-step process (you know how much I love a stepped process):

  1. Cleanse.
  2. Cleanse again.
  3. Acid product to eat away top layer of skin (or something).
  4. Eye-cream (when I remember/can find one.  Mostly I leave this step out).
  5. Serum.
  6. Moisturiser.

This is a stripped back regime based on the advice of Caroline Hirons, skincare guru and aesthetician.  She suggests much more focus on treatment serums and oils and hydrating toners, but Operation Phoebe Bath (and my budget for cosmetics, for that matter) leaves me with a pretty tight schedule, so I picked out what I thought was most important and ran with it.

Before I run through what products I used, I just want to clarify that whatever I’ve been doing has definitely, definitely worked.  My skin looks a billion times better, and I don’t necessarily mean the quantity of breakouts (which have also improved, but that could also be down to a number of other factors).  My skin is smoother, clearer, brighter and scars are fading quicker.  I’m sold.  And I don’t even think it’s down to the products, if I’m honest.  I’ve been switching between a few, in order to eke out some posh miniatures, and I think that the improvements are down to what I’m doing rather than what I’m using.

However, I’ve really loved what I’ve been using, so it’s worth sharing them in case they are actually miracle-products.

Cleanse

Pictured: Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser £29.50, Emma Hardie Amazing Face Cleansing Balm £45, Clarins Cleansing Milk £19

Of all the cleansers I use, the Clarins one is the least effective.  The Emma Hardie is the best – it smells spa-like, and just melts everything away in a lovely, balmy oil.  I like it so much that after my miniature ran out, I splurged on the full-size product.  Whatever cleanser I use, I take it off with a hot muslin cloth, then use a little more, and take it off again, leaving me squeaky clean.

Acid

Pictured: Alpha H Liquid Gold c.£33.50 for 100ml, Clean&Clear Deep Cleansing Lotion c.£3.20

I’m pretty sure that no aesthetician worth their salt would classify Clean&Clear as a toning acid, but it does have salicylic acid in it, and it has always been fab for keeping my skin clear and toned.  The Liquid Gold is a more heavy duty acid designed to ‘resurface’ the skin, so I use that every other day, and the lovely cheap one in between.

Note: they both sting my face.  But it’s acid, so I suspect that’s par for the course.

Serum

Pictured: Laboratoires Filorga Time Filler c.£48, Murad Rapid Collagen Infusion c.£65, Hydralauron Moisture Boost Serum £25

Please don’t think I spent over £100 on serums.  The Filorga was one of my miniatures, and the Murad I got as part of a gift-set with the exfoliating cleanser I bought.  The only one I spent money on was the Hydralauron, and I’d recommend it.  It contains hyaluronic acid, which does something impressive vis-a-vis water absorption, so if you use a water-based moisturiser on top of it you end up with super-super hydration.  Plus you can get it in Boots, and it’s the cheapest of the three.

(Although the Filorga serum is LOVELY.  If I have any money spare one month, I will splash out on it.)

Moisturiser

Pictured: M&S Formula Absolute Ultimate Sleep Cream £22, Nivea Soft c.£3

The M&S sleep cream is SO GOOD.  It is SO good.  Just buy it.  It’s so hydrating, and in the morning my skin is all plump and soft.  The Nivea cream is a staple for me – I use it in the mornings, and occasionally at night to make the sleep cream go further!  I don’t know if you need to spend much on a moisturiser, really, to get good results.  Despite my love of skin-care, I do think that products can only do so much.  This is why I think it’s more about the way you use them, as opposed to exactly what.  If you are inclined to spend money somewhere in the skincare process (and you might not believe in anything more than bracing cold water, which is fine) then I would suggest that good quality serums and acids are the best place to spend.

I left out eye creams because I don’t regularly use one yet – I haven’t allocated money for one in my budget and the only eye-cream miniature I got for Christmas was the texture of cottage cheese with a minty aroma – so weird.

Of all the above, if you need a very easy list of recommended products to go out and start using now, and if price is no object, then I’d suggest:

  • Emma Hardie Amazing Face Cleansing Balm
  • Alpha H Liquid Gold
  • Filorga Time-Filler
  • Formula Absolute Sleep Cream

And remember, kids, stay hydrated.

Wink.

C x

Feel-Fantastic February

Dryanuary.  Veganuary.  Sugar-free-February.  Ugh.  UGH.  What is with everyone’s complete insistence upon making the first few months of a precious new year so unutterably tedious?

No.  I mean, come on now.  This is just nonsense.

Did I maybe toy with the idea of being healthy in February?  Perhaps.  Perhaps I did toy, briefly, with the idea of cutting out major food-groups, taking up power-walking and core-strengthening pilates and rediscovering my chakras, but then I remembered something super important.

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I like to re-use memes when they are wholly appropriate.  On that note:

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Do you see my point?

I had a hoot, this January.  Oh reader, I achieved so much.  Nothing visible, nothing tangible, you understand, but trust me – it was a mentally, spiritually and financially rewarding month.  And I drank lots of wine!  And ate SO MUCH CAKE.

That said, I do think that my health could do with being taken in hand a bit, from now on.  I’m meant to be leading by example to the rest of my family – I don’t want Phoebe growing up with no idea what the oven is for other than storing trays, or mistrusting food that doesn’t come out of a jar or crinkly packet.  But there’s a middle ground here, isn’t there?  There’s taking small steps towards wellbeing whilst still doing things that make me happy.

So I have decided that every day I will make sure that 80% of all of my decisions are made with the aim of feeling fantastic.  Might go for an uplifting walk to some music.  Might watch a cheesy film.  Might blow bubbles around the bathroom with Phoebe.  Might eat a slice of cake.  Might have an early night.  Might do some proper stretches.  Might have a glass of wine.  Might drink more water.  Might embark on a brain-function-improving-course of cod liver oil tablets.

It doesn’t matter what it is, I’m going to do it because it will feel good and I’m going to enjoy it, and absolutely refuse to feel bad about all those things I’d ordinarily feel a bit squitchy-guilty about.  Because what’s the point?

There’s so much going on in the world at the moment that makes me feel like I need to hit one of those emergency stop buttons you get on escalators – I’m not going to waste time worrying about something as pointless as whether I’ve impressed enough people, or consumed too many calories, or what the cumulative effects of a lifetime of not doing stomach-crunches will be.

I have some loose goals.  Sort out my mortgage, set up my ISAs, polish the final draft of my novel, curate a far more usable capsule wardrobe…  They sound big but they are all sort of underway already.

Apart from the capsule wardrobe.  That’s as far away from being reality as you could possibly get.  There are clothes exploding from all areas of my house, and there are entire boxes wedged under beds and in cupboards containing garments I haven’t seen since before I was pregnant.  I just…  I will deal with them soon.  Perhaps for Decluttering-December?

To those lost souls still reading this in the hope I might one day reach a valid point, I am offering gentle advice:

Try to feel as good as you can for as long as you can as often as you can.  Then maybe have a little lay down.  And if, despite your best intentions, you’ve ended up having a crap day, take solace, and perhaps some comfort, from the knowledge that I – as part of a ramshackle team of possibly deluded colleagues – have agreed to apply to take part in the new series of The Crystal Maze.

Despite having no physical or logical prowess.  Despite being unable to think rationally under pressure.  Despite my fear of being locked alone in a room.  Despite being uniquely unqualified to take part in a game-show that demands quick wit, mental agility and above-average upper-body strength.

Just remember that, when you feel blue.

And pray that our application is not successful.  Because if I’m going down, I’m dragging all of you down with me.

But I suppose it could be worse.  As unlikely as it seems, there are less suitable 90s classics that are due a remake and could be on the lookout for applicants…

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Admit it: I would look spectacular in one of those leotards.

And on that disgraceful image, I bid you farewell.

My Big Fat Winter Wedding

Did I mention I got married?  It sounds like something I might have mentioned, but then, I am a very contained, private person who keeps her cards close to her chest, so maybe I didn’t…

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I know.  I jest.  I definitely mentioned it.

I just thought I’d do a little round-up, really, as it is a whole month since the big shebang occurred and Alex and I finally did the decent thing and rinsed out our parents bank accounts.  Also, this seemed like a straightforward (cough*lazy*cough) way to share (less than 0.2% of the) photos of the day.

All of them of me, obviously.

We got married at The Queens Hotel, in Cheltenham.  I’d recommend it, wholeheartedly.  There’s a lot to be said for having the entire event under one roof, particularly in mid-winter.  I honestly couldn’t have asked the hotel to improve upon anything; they were brilliant.  They even provided Alex with a little gavel for when he needed to get everyone’s attention for his second speech of the evening, because not only did he forget to thank our mums and hand out their bouquets, he ALSO forgot to actually mention me at all.

An excellent start.

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This is the revolving door to the hotel, which looks delightful in the photos, but which proved problematic when trying to actually get through it in my dress and veil.  I ended up smushed against the glass like a terrible mime artist.  (Thankfully, this was not captured on film)

Can I take a moment to also highly recommend a winter wedding to anyone who has yet to plan a wedding?  I loved it.  You don’t have any of the stress of wondering whether the British Summer will actually be a British Summer (i.e. rain and/or freezing fog) or buck the trend and be sunny.  You also get lots of nice touches, like Christmas trees and twinkly lights that you don’t have to pay for.

We made the genius (selfish?) decision to have our wedding day on Phoebe’s first birthday, thereby ensuring that we didn’t have to throw more than one party, and that all of her friends and family would be on hand to celebrate with her.  It’s not like she’s going to remember it, anyway.  I’m saving the bouncy castle party for when she is old enough to appreciate it (but must make sure that I do it whilst I still have a robust pelvic floor, because I loves me some bouncy castle-time.)

One of the best things about the wedding (aside from, you know, marrying my husband) was seeing my beautiful bridesmaids in all their finery.  I had six bridesmaids, and to be quite honest, I could have kept going because there are a lot of ladies in my life I love very much, but it got to the point where there might have been more people walking down the aisle with me than sat in the audience, so I was advised to rein it in.

Financially speaking, this was also sound advice.

I had a very clear vision in my mind of what I wanted my bridesmaids to look like, but I did what I normally do in such situations (i.e. the whole wedding) and just gave them the loosest, vaguest possible outline and trusted that they would all just absolutely get it spot on.

Which – of course – they did.

And a big round of applause to Amy, who was seven months pregnant and yet stuck around until the bitter end.  All of them were incredible.  And obviously, it makes total sense, as a bride, to surround yourself with six utterly beautiful women so that in comparison you seem…. oh.

Oh, wait.

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“Oh, mother.  Such a rookie mistake.”

It was just a fantastic day, and I don’t remember being stressed for any of it.  It helps to be surrounded by very capable bridesmaids who can take care of any stress for you, of course, but… even so.  During the planning of it all, it was easy to get hung up on the little things and worry about what people might think, and occasionally I would forget that the people coming to the wedding were all people I loved, who we absolutely didn’t have to try and impress.  It helped to remember this, when I was frazzling myself into a state over how naff my candle-holders (made out of baby-food jars sprayed with glitter) were.

(In the end, not that naff.  Also, if you provide good enough food and copious amounts of alcohol, nobody really notices stuff like what’s on the table.)

In summary:

  • It was magical, and I am so lucky;
  • My bridesmaids look better than any I saw on Pinterest;
  • You can definitely plan a cracking wedding in seven months;
  • There are many uses for empty baby-food jars if you are a slummy mummy who does not lovingly prepare home-cooked meals every day (or any day);
  • There will never not be a good opportunity for a jumping photo;
  • A good photographer is well worth the money;
  • Wedding dresses are a lot hotter, heavier and more painful than they look;
  • Which is actually a bonus when you are having photos taken outside in December;
  • Just because you give your DJ a playlist, does not mean he will not ignore it in favour of playing an entire 5ive album and the Macarena (He told me “there’s an awful lot of ‘goth’ on here love, I’ll just play some crowd-pleasers instead.”  I can only assume that by ‘goth’ he was referring to Jamie T and Bowling For Soup, which no doubt would terribly offend goths the world over);
  • Free-pouring wine throughout the wedding breakfast does actually stop being free-pouring soon after dessert, as my sister discovered whilst frantically haranguing the waiters to refill her glass to no avail.

Thank you to everyone who came.  It was a very, very special day and an incredible end to an incredible year.

Woop woop!

PS – Our photographer was amazing, and lovely, and if you ever need one, I highly recommend him.

PPS – there are actually photos of other people (good ones, too!) which I am looking forward to sharing with everyone who came.  It’s just that there are 544 of them (photos, not guests, jesus), and we seem to be managing to copy them onto our computer at a rate of four per day.  But we’ll have a smashing album just in time for our ten year anniversary.

How To Get Rich In 2017

I have several goals for this year.  One of them is to make more money, one way or another.  Not because I particularly want for much, really, but because I have been doing some research and I’ve reached the conclusion that by the time I retire (when I’m 143) my state pension will be….slim.  Calista Flockhart slim.  I’m talking probably non-existent.  Luckily I’m on that rare beast, the Final Salary Pension scheme through my job, but I am not confident that the University will be able to maintain THAT for the next thirty odd years I’ll need to work there.

I’ve been reading a book about personal wealth management (I know.  What the hell has HAPPENED to me?) and it basically said that if you want to retire on an income of around £27,000 (which would be nice, although still far too low for my lavish dreams), you’d need a retirement ‘pot’ of about £675,000.

Apparently the current UK average retirement ‘pot’ is £30,000.

Gulp.

What’s even more gulp-worthy is that whilst I’ve been paying into a (good) pension since I was 21, Alex has only started paying into a pension since the government auto-enrolled everyone into the work-place pension scheme (so about a year), and I yesterday I made the truly frightening decision to look at his payslips for the past year.  His average monthly pension contribution is about a tenner.  And his employer barely contributes more than that.

My question – a riddle, if you will – is thusly:

How in the name of arse are we meant to magic up a pot of £675,000 in the next 35 years?! And to perfectly frank with you, I’d ideally like to knock this whole ‘working for money’ thing on the head by the time I’m fifty.  There are yachts to sail, exotic holidays to dally with, and a high-maintenance husband to keep in Ford Focuses (Foci?) and such forth.  Oh, and a daughter who – if she’s anything like her mother – will be a significant drain on her parents finances.

So.  The way I see it, we have several options.  Based on these options, I have come up with a plan.

Step One – Pay off all debts.  (Not my debts, I hasten to point out, but such is the joy of marriage)

Step Two – Save more money.

Step Three – Invest our savings.

Step Four – Increase our income.

It’s a simple four-step process and I think you will agree it possesses a certain naive elegance.

The debts thing is fairly straightforward.  A few credit cards, nothing terrifying that a couple of months of decent commission from Alex won’t sort out.

The saving money is a little more complex, but has been greatly helped by me compiling a spreadsheet of our income and outgoings for the past year and working out how much we are ACTUALLY spending on our life together.  First time in my life I have ever done this.  (Also the first time I’ve ever used the AutoSum function!  How embarrassing.)  We spend quite a lot on groceries considering how appalling our diet is.  That needs a serious overhaul.  However, it only took me twenty minutes of online digging to realise that we can save £263 a year on gas and electricity, so that’s a reassuring start.  Any surplus can go into our savings pot (currently our ‘Mama needs a new kitchen’ pot).  After that project, 10% of our salary is going to be squirrelled away and put to work.

Investing our savings is my brave foray into the wild unknown.  When I broached the subject with Alex the other day, he side-eyed me as though I thought I was the Wolf of Wall Street.

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“That’s pretty risky, babe,” he informed me warily.

Well, yeah.  But, I reasoned, probably not as risky as just hoping on a wing and a prayer that we don’t end up as the completely destitute pensioners we are currently on course to be.  Any anyway, it’s not like I meant I was going to start prancing around on a trading floor yelling ‘buy buy buy!  No, NO you TIT, SELL SELL SELL’.  Because a) they wouldn’t let me anywhere near a trading floor and b) I am meek, by nature.  No, I meant doing something sensible like opening a stocks and shares ISA, or whatever the kids are calling it these days.  Maybe buying some precious metals.  Buying a proper filing cabinet would be a good start, to be honest.

First the ISA, then the yacht.  That’s basically the plan.

And then increasing our income!  That’s probably the most fun one.  And also, most baffling.  But where there’s a will there’s a way, and there are LOADS of way to make money.  Maybe I’ll write some ebooks, or find stuff to sell, or…or…I’m still working on it, basically.  The key is to find out what I’ve got that other people want (and would be willing to pay for) and to be honest, I’m drawing a blank at the moment.  I’ll get back to you.

I’m feeling confident about it though.  Money management is my top priority for 2017 – I’ve had a ‘head in the sand’ approach to my finances for too long and it has finally dawned on me that nobody but me is going to sort them out.  I mean, you’d think that the one member of my family with a career in banking would be the one taking control of this, wouldn’t you?  But no.  So it’s up to me.

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I am ALL OVER THIS.

I’ll have to love you and leave you for now.  I’ve got to go and look up some important financial terms.

Like ‘Investing for Dummies’.  And ‘How to become an Avon lady’.

C xx

PS that photo above is freaking me out.  A few years ago at work they introduced dual-screens and people were thrown into chaos.  Imagine having nine??

PPS I am updating this after my father pointed out that there are not nine screens in the above photo, there are twelve.  I was going to pretend that I was being witty and just pretending to be worse with numbers than I am, but this is a space of truth, so allow me to remind you all that I am an idiot.