My ///what3words journey (so far)

apps, Life, Travel

“Helping everyone talk about everywhere”

what3words.com

At this time in my life and career, I can’t NOT write a blog post about my employer, my saviour, and one of the most awesome ideas I’ve ever heard of – The wonderful what3words.

I have worked as Office Manager for w3w now since early January. I originally applied for the same job over 2 years ago, but had to go for a different role elsewhere due to financial security at the time (Boring). I had always regretted the decision I made and wondered what it would have been like if I’d opted for the role that appealed to my interests and passions rather than my wallet.

After 2 years, I’d become very unhappy in my last role and things weren’t improving for me there, so I felt it was time to move on. With the support of my family, friends and therapist, I started to apply for other roles. I am so glad I had inadvertently waited until the Office Manager role at w3w came up again – I applied instantly and was contacted by the Talent Acquisition team within 20 minutes. After a week of interviews and chats with the team, I was offered the job. I was over the moon! It felt so serendipitous, especially as Chris, the CEO of what3words knew my brother from the time he worked as a band manager (which was his inspiration for coming up the what3words concept after finding it hard to locate people and gig locations using just the address info that was available at the time).

What is what3words all about?

You may have heard about the what3words app on TV, radio, the printed press, billboards or social media, especially if you’re friends with me! It is a revolutionary idea to locate people, things or more precise destinations using a simple 3-word address rather than long-winded GPS coordinates. What3words created a grid of 57 trillion (That’s right… TRILLION) 3x3m squares across the whole world (land and sea and everything in between), and gave each square its own unique 3-word address. For an example, see the image below:

The entrance to Wembley Stadium

The what3words app, or a tailored version thereof, is already being used by the emergency services in the UK to locate people more quickly, meaning a more efficient, and often critically life-saving, emergency call-out. Delivery companies like DPD have now given people the option to provide a 3-word address in order to find their front doors more effectively (which is particularly good for people who have problems with drivers finding their homes via postcodes or normal addresses).

The app is free to download and is available to use offline. It uses GPS tracking even when you have no mobile data or wifi. So, if you’re ever lost in a forest or up a mountain with no signal, you can find your way back to safety at the touch of a button. Just don’t run out of battery, of course! Please see this video of the w3w CEO, Chris Sheldrick, explaining how the app works offline.

It’s not only the UK who are using the services provided by what3words. The app has been developed into over 50 languages (and counting), which takes a lot of work and time to get right. Languages all work so differently, and have a different amount of words available to make up the amount needed for all of these 3-word addresses across the world. The addresses in English are not just directly translated into other languages, mainly because that is impossible, so the word list is started from scratch in each and every language. Careful work has to be done to make sure that the app is user-friendly in all of these languages, and the w3w Languages and Localisation team work with locals and translators to discuss the whole catalogue of words that are to be used. I am so intrigued and fascinated by the work of this team, which must be so interesting and fulfilling.

There have been some publicised misconceptions or criticisms of the app, the system and the concept of what3words. The common issues are addressed on the w3w website, though, such as what about different levels of a building? Or, the use of words (or not) that sound the same but are spelled differently (homophones). You can find the answer, plus many others here.

What does what3words mean to me?

I have been fascinated by what3words for a few years now, ever since I read about it on Facebook. I told my family and friends about it and I had the app ready to go whenever I might need it. Over time, I discovered more of what the app could offer, such as Photo Mode. Photo Mode allows you to link your device’s photos to the app and find the 3-word addresses of the exact place where you took the photo. This was really useful when we were trying to find Sibu’s aunt (Mam’khulu)’s house in Lobamba, Eswatini, on a map. I had spent ages trying to retrace our car journeys to her home and figuring out which side roads we turned into to get there. When in Photo Mode on the what3words app, I found a photo on my phone of our youngest son (then a newborn) just after we brought him back to Mam’khulu’s house from the hospital in Manzini. When I linked it to the photo mode on the app, it found the 3-word address of the very room we were in when I took the photo of him. Amazing! I have since managed to pinpoint the exact location of both sons’ births, as well as key spots on our travels which brought back fond memories. All of these can be saved on your w3w account to be shared or used again if you ever go back to those favourite spots. It’s like a life story in 3-word addresses!

Eswatini is a perfect example of a place where what3words would be life-changing for its people. There are minimal road names and addresses in Lobamba, for example, and a lot of residents use PO box numbers to receive their post which they collect from their local post office. In order to find your way to someone’s house in the more rural areas, you have to use visual clues like ‘Pass the corner shop on your left, then turn first left, then second right by the massive jacaranda tree’. Even on a detailed map, it’s hard to find an exact location with no other information to go on other than your memory of the journey to it. Having an exact 3x3m square with an easy 3-word address to remember and relay to others is going to make it so much easier for people to arrive without getting lost on the way and it could shave valuable minutes off an emergency call-out. What3words is already available in Zulu, and I’m going to speak to my colleagues about their plans to provide the people of Eswatini with the app in siSwati, which would be so useful to them.

With what3words, there’s security in knowing that you have a way for the emergency services to find you quickly, that deliveries could actually finally be delivered to your door, and that you can help others find you (or you find others) quickly and easily. We just need to make sure that everyone knows about how useful, vital and life-altering this one app could be for them. Plus, you can have merchandise made up to include your 3-word address – like house signs, keyrings and even dog collars (which could be super-useful if your pooch gets lost). It’s free and it could change your life – What are you waiting for?! Download the app for iPhone or Android now!

Here are some of my Photo Mode pics from the app

Enjoy,

NSG xxx

P.S. Please do share your own what3words stories with me on the blog or via social media – I’d love to feed back your experiences to the team :).

More Podcasts I’m Loving Right Now!

Life, Travel

Since Jan 2022, my commute time has increased, meaning I now have more time to immerse myself in the world of podcasts!

In my last post on the subject, I listed Desert Island Discs as one of my favourites, and I have to say that this is still firmly at the top of my list! There are decades worth of episodes available online and I have found out so much about people I didn’t really know at all. I particularly enjoyed listening to Professor Noel Fitzpatrick’s episode. He speaks so passionately about animals and said there’s no reason to treat them any differently from humans. He has been revolutionary in veterinary science and surgery, coming up with innovative (and very successful) ways to ‘fix’ animals. I wouldn’t have known anything about him without Desert Island Discs!

Table Manners with Jessie Ware and her mama, Lenny

This podcast is lovely. Not only are Jessie and Lenny giving us mother-daughter relationship goals, but they talk about all the things I love! Good food, entertainment, wine… They have the best guests on their show, and they cook for them in Lenny’s home in good ol’ Clapham, which is just down the road from me. Highlights for me have been their interviews with the gorgeous Billy Porter, Jo Brand and David Schwimmer. I highly recommend this podcast if you’re into food and wine.

Grounded with Louis Theroux

Louis is one of my favourite journalists, and always seems so sincere in his questioning. He has the most interesting guests and he manages to make them feel comfortable with being honest and open, which makes for a very interesting listen. My highlights include his interviews with FKA Twigs, Gail Porter and Miriam Margolyes. Miriam Margolyes actually made me howl with laughter – She is so entertaining!

Something Rhymes With Purple with Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth

I, like many others I’m sure, have a big girl crush on Susie Dent. She’s awesome! I love words and language (especially when Gyles talks about them in his delicious tone), and this programme is really interesting. I have learned so much since I started listening to it, and have even been to a live recording where Susie Dent read out my question (which was ‘Why do we call faeces ‘poo’ and urine ‘wee’?’ – The answer being that it came from how children used to say it, apparently). My favourite anecdote is that the inventor of the phrase ‘gobbledygook’ was the son of the man who the word ‘maverick’ was coined after. Maverick’s son said that ‘gobbledygook’ was the sound turkeys made when they spoke. One of my personal highlights was receiving a response from Gyles himself after I emailed in to the show. I am a big fan of his, and it made my year when I received this:

Dear Kate,

How great to hear from you – thank you!  I think we addressed the poo/wee issue in this week’s podcast.  I love it that you listen.

I love your grandparents – heroes and role models.  Tim and I are both patrons of the National Piers Society so our paths cross on the end of the pier!  And Sheila Hancock and I are very tentatively following your grandparents onto the canals and rivers of England . . . Fortunately Tim came along to our first shoot and showed us the ropes.  We’re still hopeless.

Lovely to be in touch.  I hope our paths cross properly soon.

All the best,

Gyles

I have recently signed up for an Audible account and hope to review some audio books through my blog as part of my return.

As always, thanks for reading, and I do hope that you’re able to enjoy these podcast recommendations sometime, especially now that our journeys are getting busier. They definitely help with those crammed train journeys. Just make sure you don’t look like a wally laughing to yourself (or, just don’t give a monkeys and roll with it!).

Enjoy,

NSG xxx

I Needed Uber Today…

Life, Parenting, Writing

This is the first time I have written a post in what seems like forever. It has been a busy few months with me starting a new full-time job, Khaya starting school, my partner juggling full-time parenting and a full-time job, Christmas and all of the chaos that brings.

Today is a monumental day. It’s the last day of 2019, the last day of the 2010s, and the last year of my 30s. It’s also the day that we bought a proper family car. Our own car! I’m wondering when it will hit me that we don’t have to give this one back to anybody. We both feel like proper grown-ups and it feels so good to have had enough savings to enable us to buy a car and insure it, tax it, get a resident parking permit and fill up with fuel all on the same day.

Oh, and pay to get an Uber to the car in order to collect it.

It was the only way.

And it was a good journey. I had a lovely driver, who was chatty and friendly. He didn’t cancel at the last minute, and he didn’t drive me to the car using a crazy route. It was straightforward, easy and quick. Oh, and before you ask, I used my partner’s account. I still don’t have the app on my phone ;). But, I will admit that I found the experience rather pleasing, much to my chagrin. Perhaps, now that we will have use of our own car, I can use today’s experience to book-end my relationship with Uber as well as see out the past year and decade.

I found out recently that if you were born in the ’80s, by 2020 you will have already lived in 2 centuries and millenia before you turn 40. For me, that will only be true for a couple of months…

So, for all of you using cars, Ubers and whatever else to be where you need/want to be to see in the New Year, here’s to 2020; the year and the sickly, slightly-alcoholic drink of our youth (RIP). I hope you all have a brilliant year ahead. Do whatever you need to do to be happy, healthy and secure.

HNY!

NSG xxx

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Podcasts I’m Loving Right Now

Life, Parenting, Travel

I don’t know about you, but there seem to be so many podcasts around right now. I am not complaining, as it means there is something out there for everyone… and they’re free to enjoy! I have come to an age where music sometimes doesn’t cut it during my commute. I need some other sounds. I need to be stimulated through my ears another way (oo-er). Enter the wonderful new concept of podcasts.

My brother and his girlfriend first introduced me to podcasts a few years ago when they told me how much they enjoy listening to Desert Island Discs while driving. I always said that I couldn’t concentrate on spoken word while driving, but perhaps that’s because my brain wasn’t ready for it! I love listening to spoken word now. Here are a handful of podcasts that I can’t wait to catch up on each week…

Desert Island Discs

Obviously this is the first on my list. I love it. Especially the Classic episodes. You find out so much about the celebrities and famous figures from all industries, even the ones you’d never even heard of before. If you listen to people you know from our generation, they will often have Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit as one of their choices… and all Brits seem to choose something by the Beatles, perhaps out of obligation. Both of my grandparents have been guests on the show, which are obviously my very favourite episodes (and, no, neither of them chose a Nirvana or Beatles song).

Honestly

Clemmie Telford is relatively local to me, and I first found out about her on Instagram. I went through a period of following all sorts of mummy bloggers and Clemmie’s blog, Mother Of All Lists, really interested me – It was so different and refreshing and, well, honest. When she announced her new podcast earlier in the year, I was in the virtual queue waiting for that first episode. And I now listen to each new episode religiously every Wednesday on my morning commute. The first episode on Marriage with Clemmie and Simon Hooper is still my favourite so far, but I have thoroughly enjoyed her discussions about other subjects such as death, periods and cancer. It is so refreshing to hear people talk about their experiences with such honesty and light-heartedness. It led me to write my post, Talking Honestly About Death, which was inspired by one of Clemmie’s podcasts. I have learned a lot from Clemmie and her guests, and I hope others will, too.

The Guilty Feminist

Needless to say, Deborah Frances-White is smashing it at the moment and using her profile and podcast for the greater good. She always has great guests and the podcast is laugh-out-loud funny. I remember Andi Osho telling a ‘toilet’ story about when she and her boyfriend were on holiday. You’ll have to listen to the episode to enjoy the story, as I don’t want to ruin it – She tells it so well. I was crying with laughter in the hair care aisle in Tesco. Check it out here: The Bechdel Test with Andi Osho.

I was lucky enough to see two recordings of the show earlier this year – One at Kings Place in Kings Cross, and the other at the wonderful Royal Albert Hall. It was my first visit and I enjoyed every flipping minute of the show, especially Hannah Gadsby’s stand-up. She was so brilliant. Plus, they got one of the ‘feminists of the future’ up from the audience to join them in their final dance – She was 12 and her father had bought her ticket and accompanied her to the Guilty Feminist show for her birthday present. Move over, Greta!

The Horne Section

Alex Horne and his section are awesome. I have been a fan of theirs since the very beginning when my brother invited me to see them perform at Soho Theatre’s downstairs space in a very rough draft of the eventual show. I knew there and then that they would go far. My brother knew a lot of the ‘section’, who are all good muso friends of his, and he even played guitar for them at a radio recording, which I attended. It was one of the laugh-out-loud-funniest things I have ever witnessed. I first heard about the podcast when I was in Malawi, and made sure I listened to all of them as soon as I could. They accompanied me on many evenings of cooking! Funny, witty, clever and musically sweet-as, this podcast is a must for everyone! You can also catch Alex Horne on Dave’s Taskmaster, and the whole section have been known to grace the 9 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Dictionary Corner once or twice. They also have some music videos available on their website – Bagface, Battleships (with the incredible Joe Stilgoe) and Barge Rock are my favourites.

I hope you all have your favourite go-to podcasts. Do let me know what they are and why you love them – I’m always open to trying new ones!

Enjoy,

NSG xxx

Cover Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash

Why I Have Deleted The Uber App From My Phone

Life, Parenting, Travel

Uber. So helpful, cheap and accessible, right? I have used them on and off for a few years, in the UK, USA and South Africa, and they have always been relatively reliable, presuming they kind-of know the area in which they’re driving and don’t ALWAYS rely on their sat nav app to get them to the destination.

I have recently had nothing but bad experiences with them, so have decided to delete the app from my phone permanently. The main reason being that I just can’t rely on them like I used to.

In my post ‘Rain, Rain, Go Away‘ I talked about one of the reasons why I am now feeling compelled to write this post. We booked an Uber on said rainy morning to take myself and Khaya to school. We had a driver accept the journey and he was making his way to us from our local train station, where he’d just made a drop-off. About three minutes before he was due to arrive, he cancelled the journey. Luckily, I was still able to walk/swim to the school to get Khaya there on time, but it was close! I was so angry that I complained to Uber and received some standard email in response, apologising for any inconvenience, etc, etc. Reason One.

Reason Two actually happened a few months ago. I went to our local Asda to get a big shop and I ordered an Uber to come and pick me up and take me home. I had limited funds in my bank account, so was shocked when they withdrew the upper amount of the estimated travel fee at the moment I booked the ride, rather than charging me for the actual trip fee at the end. It was a busy time, apparently, and the fee would be a bit higher due to high demand. I didn’t expect it to be as high as it ended up being, though. My driver arrived and dithered about which way he was going to get me home. He turned around a couple of times and eventually took a good back route, avoiding the traffic. When I checked the fare for the trip at the end, it was £9.21. For about a mile journey! I was so disappointed… More so because I probably could have called our local cab firm and got the same journey for about half of that price (A mistake I shall never make again!).

My grandfather always says he hates Uber and would never use them as they don’t have ‘The Knowledge’ of London like real cab drivers do. But, he also doesn’t agree with the ethics. I can understand all of this, but I always used them despite their problems, as they were so reliable and easy to use.

When we were staying in Johannesburg in 2016, we used Uber a lot. It was great – Cheap, reliable and efficient. I felt bad about not using the slightly-more-expensive cab driver that we had met, who worked for a smaller company, but Uber was so much easier. That was until we had a nightmare trip to Joburg Zoo and I realised that having no mobile data or wifi was almost life-threatening (or, at least, sanity-threatening!). We (Khaya and a pregnant I) arranged to meet a new friend there, but she didn’t show up. I had limited use of my phone, so tried to look around to see if any part of the zoo had wifi (I was even ready to pay for it!) so I could call her and/or order an Uber to go home again. No wifi at the restaurant, but there were wifi points all over the zoo. We made our way to the nearest one, which was next to the statue of the late Max, a gorilla who passed away at the zoo in 2004. I managed to send some iMessages to said friend, no replies (I later found out she left her phone at home). I managed to book an Uber, but I knew that as soon as I moved away from Max and towards the exit, I’d lose signal and have to HOPE that the driver met me at the right place, without being able to check if he was even still coming! Luckily all was OK in the end, but I wonder if the same happy ending would have occured in London?? I expect the driver would have just cancelled on me, leaving me high and dry, crying on the roadside after the zoo closed. Perhaps UK Uber drivers should take some lessons from the SA ones.

Reason Three is simple – I can’t ride in an Uber with my two boys without car seats. Either I carry two car seats around with me permanently in case I need an Uber in an emergency, or I leave the kids behind.

I rarely have the need for an Uber/taxi nowadays, and it’s always a no-go with the two boys. We have amazing public transport around us and we now have use of a family car when we need it. We’re all set without you, Uber, thank you. Now go and let down all the rest of London!

And… delete.

On another note, my lovely readers, I’d love to hear about your experiences with Uber and whether you have stopped using them and, if so, what was the clincher?

NSG xxx

Cover photo credit: Austin Distel on Unsplash

Rain, rain GO AWAY!

Life, Parenting

I want to start this post by saying that I actually love rain. Rain is so important and vital to the smooth running of this planet. I remember being in Malawi during a terrible drought and, when the rain finally came, we were all so happy to see it! Even us miserable Brits.

I love rainy days indoors – Chilling on the sofa with a cuppa and an old movie, occasionally looking smugly out of the window at the poor unfortunate souls having to travel and go out in this oppressive weather. You really can’t beat that.

But yesterday, my relationship with the rain became soured. As did my relationship with Uber… which was already souring quite rapidly after a ridiculously expensive trip home from my local Asda about a month ago. Let me tell you all about it…

My eldest son started school last week. It has been a huge change for all the family, and we are really having to pull our socks up more than ever before, despite being exhausted after all the laundry, ironing, organising, planning, getting him to bed and school on time, etc. We have always been a bit relaxed about getting out of the house, mainly because it stresses me out so much trying to get everyone out of the door in a relatively decent state. We try to make vague plans to meet people and I recently found out that my friends are telling me to get places earlier now because I am often late (which is NEVER my fault). Anyway, I digress. So, yesterday morning, the heavens opened and we decided that we should get an Uber to take us to the school because we didn’t want Khaya to get his uniform too wet and turn up to school looking dishevelled. We checked the time of the wait for a driver, and booked with enough time to get ready, meet the driver outside and get to the school for 8.50am. The driver cancelled at the very last minute, while he was on his way to us. I guess it was too short a journey. Thanks, buddy. If we left at that time once we knew we would have to now walk to the school, we would just make it at Khaya’s pace. So, we had the genius plan for me to push him in the buggy, which would have shaved off lots of time and we would have managed to keep him dry and looking crisp in his uniform.

I got soaked. Completely through. I had to peel off my clothes when I arrived home, despite having a raincoat on the whole time. I must have looked like a cat who had fallen into a bath. My boots (with whom I have also got a soured relationship) were not very waterproof so I got sopping wet socks from walking through a deep puddle. Then, to add insult to injury, they were a touch too big so I now have two very painful blisters on the back of my heels. Yay.

When I got home and changed, I sat down, switched on my computer and was asked by my partner, ‘Isn’t it time to take Nathi to the hospital for his eye appointment?’. Ugh. I hadn’t eaten or had a cuppa, so I felt like a zombie. We got Nathi up, dressed and out of the door (and even got him to wear his glasses!), and we were off. Everything went well after that, except for mis-predicting how long it would take to get to the school to collect Khaya at 3pm. Nathi and I were out, so we hadn’t done that journey before. Needless to say, my partner had to stop work to go and get him (Sorry, darling). But, we all met up at the school and went to the pub together. We watched the poor unfortunate souls through the window while I sank into my Pinot Noir and nursed my aching heels.

I hope all of you have had more successful school runs. And, if anyone has a car they want to donate, please let me know.

NSG xxx

Photo credit: Pete Nowicki on Unsplash

Thank You!

Life, Parenting

Happy Hot Day, everyone. I hope you’re all keeping cool somehow. If not, wait until tomorrow when the temp will drop by about 10 degrees!

I had a nice start to the day today – I woke up this morning to notifications from WordPress telling me that my blog had been visited more often than usual for a Tuesday morning. I had loads of views at around 7am. I have spent ALL day trying to work out why – Was it something I tagged in a post that is currently trending? Nope. Did someone famous signppost their Twitter followers to my blog? Nope.

Then I had a brainwave about an hour ago.

I regularly receive the Nappy Valley Net weekly e-newsletter, which is aimed for parents in the SW London area. A couple of weeks ago they posted an article/discussion about something that was written about my grandparents in the press (They live locally, too. Upstairs, in fact). The article said that my grandfather was sad to have to sell their Wandsworth home. This wasn’t true, and the words that were actually spoken were taken way out of context. I’m sure it went along the lines of ‘We probably should downsize, but we can’t bear to leave this house’. The discussion on Nappy Valley Net garnered a lot of lovely comments from local parents who have enjoyed their Great Canal Journeys programme and showed real compassion for their situation. I felt that I had to set the record straight about them – That they are not reluctantly selling their home at all. So, about a week or so ago, I posted a comment on the discussion.

Early this morning I received the new Nappy Valley Net e-newsletter which contained an update on that story mentioning me and my comment! And, because I posted as Not So Goldilocks, I guess some of the other parents who were browsing through the newsletter at the crack of dawn, like myself, wanted to see who I was (now that they knew where I lived!).

And that was it! My ‘Eureka’ moment.

So, thank you so much to Nappy Valley Net and all of its followers – Not only for the welcome traffic, but for the beautiful and supportive messages you have posted about my grandparents. I will pass them all on.

NSG xxx

 

Weight on my Mind, Mind on my Weight.

Life

As of last Saturday, I have finally decided to change my diet and my terrible eating habits once and for all. I have been over 2-and-a-half stone overweight for too long, and it is now becoming such a problem that I seriously cannot let it get any bigger, physically or metaphorically.

I have been eating junk food and large portions at meal times ever since Nathi was born. I remember being at Mamkhulu’s home in Swaziland after Nathi’s birth and eating 2-3 peanut butter sandwiches (yep, that’s 4-6 slices of bread) for lunch without a second thought. At that point, I thought I would be OK as I was breastfeeding and I still looked relatively slim (for me, anyway!). I had momentarily forgotten how my body works… which is that I eat badly, don’t put any weight on straight away, continue to eat badly, then BAM… I’m a stone or two heavier overnight and none of my clothes fit anymore.

I love food. I love all types of food, but mainly I love sweet food. Chocolate, desserts, popcorn, anything packed with sugar. My main vice, though, is cereal. Big, fat, mammoth bowls of cereal which, to quote my dad, ‘don’t leave enough room for the milk’. When I eat cereal at his house, I use one of their mixing bowls rather than a normal cereal bowl. And I went through a terrible phase just recently where I was eating three big bowls of cereal a day, sometimes in addition to other meals.

My physicality represents my mental health, there’s no doubt about that. I don’t really give myself enough care or respect. I don’t think I ever have done. I am terrible at sticking to my own opinions, I am rubbish at making decisions, and I have low self-esteem (much to people’s shock, as I hide it well most of the time). I am miserable in my own skin (Actually, my skin is a whole other blog post!), and I cannot let my children see that anymore.

Everyone puts weight on differently, and loses it differently, I’m sure. I put weight on around my middle and my upper arms mostly, but I’ve also recently struggled to get boots on, and even rings on my fingers. The arms and the middle are the two places which, if I put on weight, make me look a little bit like a small, round Oompa-Loompa (And not just any Oompa-Loompa… The one fourth from the left). I have a small chest and a small head and I am short. I need to go IN at the waist, not out. I remember remarking to a friend a few years ago that, when I put on weight, I look like a Walnut Whip as my head is so small compared to my body.

One of my ‘moments of clarity’ on this change I needed to make was as a result of a conversation with my mum. I was telling her how much I weighed and how much I wanted to lose, and she said to me; ‘Think of all that extra weight you’re carrying. It’s like you’re carrying a Khaya around with you all the time.’ WOW. That was it. The moment I realised that I’m a ‘Khaya-weight’ difference between what I want to weigh and what I do weigh. That’s a whole 4-year old. I’m carrying the equivalent of a 4-year old around with me all day long. I imagined how I would feel if I got rid of that fatty baggage (Not Khaya, the weight). How much easier would it be to do the simplest things, like walking or playing hide and seek with my boys!?

Because I’m a bit of a faddy person, I’m being sensible. I’m taking it a day at a time and not expecting too much too soon. I know how my mind works, and I am determined to do this. I don’t want me to fuck it up. I have replaced breakfast (Those huge bowls of cereal) with a SlimFast high protein shake with added fruit and soy milk or skimmed milk and, apart from being extremely gassy (sorry, TMI), I am already feeling a small difference. It may simply be the feeling that I’m doing something positive at last, as I don’t physically feel any lighter as yet! I also need to drink more water – My worst habit is not drinking enough. My next step will be to do more exercise – I have DVDs that I can do at home, and I have considered joining a gym, although I don’t really like them! It may be the only way I can join a Pilates class, though, which I miss terribly from my pre-mamahood days.

So, if any of you are in the same boat as myself and want to share your journey with me, please get in touch. I have friends and relatives who have done so well at losing weight and changing their lifestyles for the better, and I hope to be one of the next ones to do so. I can’t wait to be happier in my own skin.

Thanks for reading,

NSG xxx

Not-So-SAHM

Life, Parenting

I am very excited to share some news with you…I have a new job! A proper part-time job with a proper company with proper people and stuff! I am so happy and excited about getting back into the world of work, and I wanted to share this with all the mamas who are probably feeling the same way I did a little while ago – Scared, nervous and worried that, perhaps, there was no hope of me getting out of stay-at-home motherhood without writing a bestselling novel or two (but when would I have the time for that??).

I had been applying for jobs locally that had specified the amount of hours, but not the actual days, that they wanted someone to work. It was really difficult to find roles which were able to work around the boys’ childcare. And a lot of the jobs were asking for someone to work three days per week, when I could only really manage two.

All of the roles I applied for ended in nothing. Not even an invitation for an interview. I had been blacklisted before I even started! I wondered if it was because of the 4-year ‘sabbatical’ on my application forms, or the way I had covered that period of my employment on my CV. I never actually thought to ask any of the companies I applied to. But, I always think that certain things happen for good reasons. Luckily for me, I have now found a job that I know I will enjoy, for a company that I admire, and with people I know I will get on with (in an office only 6 mins’ walk from my partner’s!). So, how did it happen? How did I go from no follow-ups to landing a job after my first interview in seven years?

I’ll tell you. I went through an agency.

I really didn’t know that I was going to go through an agency, but the job I applied for online was advertised by an agency, not the direct employer. I’m not adverse to the idea, but I was dubious about how it would all work. I hadn’t been to a recruitment agency in years! It turns out that it really was the right move for me at this time in my career. And it’s all down to the fact that they chat to you, they see you, they get to know YOU, not just the black and white of a CV or application form. They can see how a candidate might fit into a company or team. That level of personability really made the difference for me. The agent met me on FaceTime and we got on really well. I was honest about what I could offer the company and she was honest about what they wanted from their successful candidate. It was the start of that feeling of ‘Oh wow, this feels really right’.

She called me later on that week to let me know that they wanted to see me for an interview. I spent that next few days telling myself NOT to be nervous (which actually worked) and to just be myself. I think I went in to it thinking ‘que sera sera’ and that it wasn’t a big deal. That helped ease my nerves, and I ended up having a really lovely informal interview with my (now) new colleagues/superiors. I then received a call to say that they’d like to invite me to a second interview to meet the boss (eek), which also went well.

So, then was the excruciating wait to see if I had been chosen. The decision had to be delayed but it was worth the wait. I was so happy. I felt that I was now more than just a mama. I felt that I was capable of being something like the person I used to be before I had the boys. It was a great feeling, and I am sure I am going to continue feeling like that when I start the job. I feel like I will actually have a ‘work-life balance’ at last!

So, if you’re a SAHM and you’re looking for some part-time work, try using an agency to help you. Especially if you can only work odd days or hours – They will hopefully be able to find you something to suit! If you’re in London and want to find out who I used, please send me a message and I’ll be happy to oblige!

Thanks for reading,

NSG xxx

Photo credit: Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Talking Honestly about Death

Life, Parenting

I have just listened to the wonderful second episode of Clemmie Telford’s Honestly podcast (I also highly recommend the first episode with the brilliant Father and Mother of Daughters, Simon and Clemmie Hooper). Clemmie’s Honestly podcast is about speaking honestly about those subjects which are often taboo or brushed under the carpet; subjects which can be tough to talk about or difficult to bring up, maybe a bit embarrassing to talk about in front of friends or family. But, they do need to be talked about.

This episode deals with that subject that we all avoid – Death. I know I avoid it, as the sheer knowledge that I will die one day frightens me so much that I can’t bear to even think about it. It has scared me from a young age. I recall driving home from my grandfather’s house one dark, rainy evening with my mum, dad and brother. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old. I started crying for no apparent reason. When my parents asked me what was wrong, I said ‘I don’t want you to die’. It really, really upset me to think this would happen one day and there would be no way I could stop it. The thought of living without them traumatised me.

As we get older and our families grow, we tend to change the way we feel about death. I guess, as it becomes more inevitable, we learn to accept it and face it head-on. But, becoming a mother makes the whole thing so much harder. Now we have to think about our children losing a parent as well as us losing our relatives. I don’t think I have ever really talked about this with anyone before because I am blocking it out of my mind completely as a way to avoid having to deal with such a huge fear of mine. My biggest fear. And I don’t know why I fear it. Why do I feel scared of dying? As the man in the song ‘Great Gig In The Sky‘ by Pink Floyd says, ‘Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it, you’ve got to go sometime’. And I have lost some amazing people in my life. My grandmother died in 2002. We were close. She was strong. I thought, if she can do it, then it must be OK. And it happens so often, almost as much as people being born. The world daily death rate is 151,600 people, according to http://www.ecology.com. That’s per day!

I think the fear is the unknown. Not many people can tell us what it’s like to die. People die for a moment before being brought back to life, which is incredible, and that’s the closest we will get to being able to understand what happens. In Clemmie Telford’s podcast, Louise Winters and Anna Lyons talk openly and honestly about their jobs as an alternative funeral director and end-of-life doula respectively. Both deal with death and grief every day. Listening to their take on it all, and the way it should be discussed, was really refreshing. So much so that I had to write this blog post immediately in order to share with you, and signpost, some of the things they said. Anna Lyons’ post on Clemmie Telford’s blog, Mother Of All Lists, was mentioned in the podcast episode, so I went and had a look. It is an honest guide to death and all the things surrounding it. Here is the list for you all to read (and I feel it is important that you do): What Death Has Taught Me. I won’t spoil it for you, as it is really an amazing read, but I was surprised to hear, on the podcast and in the article, that you can have a funeral anywhere, you can be buried in your back garden and, most unexpectedly, you can remain at home after you die, not in a mortuary, as long as you’re kept cool and the cat isn’t allowed in the room (Apparently they begin to eat dead bodies after the heart stops – Ewww. Although, this won’t stop me from loving cats).

Listening to the Honestly podcast has made me think about mortality, grief and life’s fragility. These would normally be grave subjects to think about on a Wednesday morning, but today I am thinking about them in a different, new and refreshing light. It doesn’t have to be taboo or forbidden to discuss it, and I totally agree with Anna about talking openly and honestly about death with our children. I have thought about it many times, when the subject arises, but I realise that they’re not stupid and shouldn’t be shielded away from the subject of death. It will only increase a fear in them. My eldest is really obsessed with The Lion King at the moment, and he refers to the death of Mufasa as him ‘getting stuck’. So now, any time there is a perilous or sad part of a film, he asks if someone is going to get stuck. *LION KING SPOILER ALERT* We tell him that Mufasa died because Scar pushed him, and he blamed it on Simba. He understands now that Mufasa died. These things do happen, so why lie about them? I think having children has made me begin to feel differently about death – When I talk about it with them, I don’t want to scare them like it scares me. I want them to feel comfortable with the inevitability. It is inevitable and it doesn’t need to be scary. My boys will find their own way to deal with these things – the death of relatives and their own mortality – and we will be there to support them through the tough times and to try and explain things to them truthfully when they ask questions. As they say in the podcast, understanding what happens in death allows us to feel more comfortable with it. It helps us to imagine, as best we can, what it might be like and that gives us a better personal connection with our inevitable end.

I have to, finally, give a special mention to Louise Winters’ beautiful answer to Clemmie Telford’s question, ‘Death is…’

‘The full stop at the end of a life sentence’.

As ever, thanks for reading,

NSG xxx

Cover Photo by João Silas on Unsplash