NSG is back!

Parenting

Wow! It’s good to be back! Same place, new logo (Do you like it?). How has everyone been since December 2019? Only 2 and a bit years since my last post…!

The NSG family has been through a lot. We have lost beloved members of our family, we have adjusted to new routines and jobs, we have all had Covid at the same time, we got through remote schooling and lockdowns, working from home…

We have to be proud of that. We got through it all and we’re still here and smiling.

Why did I stop writing my blog back in 2019? It was a number of things. I went into a full-time job around November 2019 which took up a lot of my time, energy and brain power, leaving no real quality time to write. I also received a comment about my blog posts – that they were ‘a bit much’. I’m still not really sure what that meant, but it made me doubt myself to the point where I just didn’t think my writing was any good and no-one would really want to read it. I forgot, in that moment, just how much I enjoy writing and how it can be so therapeutic, which was the main purpose of this blog in the first place. I just thought ‘I’m not good enough to do this, so I won’t’.

Why am I back now? I have been wanting to find the space and time to pick up where I left off with the blog for ages now, and I think I have finally found it. I have about 8 draft posts which are mostly irrelevant now, all written when I had a moment of inspiration. Some are unfinished, but others were not posted simply because I was afraid of them being ‘a bit much’, so they remain in my drafts folder to this day. I am now making this hobby a priority and getting back into the joy of writing, researching things to write about, and sharing some words which might help others (even if it’s just to entertain!), as well as picking up on my Spanish through Duolingo, working full time managing a brilliant office and raising my two sons!

So, watch this space, share, follow, like and, most importantly, enjoy!

It’s good to be back :),

NSG xxx

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

Who, or What the Heck, is Not So Goldilocks?

Parenting

So, I’m sure you have begun to see me popping up on your social media feeds. I really hope so, as I have been working hard to infiltrate all platforms and not getting paid for it!

But, what am I all about? Who am I? What am I? What exactly can I bring to the world to make it a better place? Well, I don’t quite know about that, but I can answer some simple questions…

What makes you happy?

Strawberry Pop Tarts, when the boys give each other a hug, chocolate, hugs from my fella (Can you see a pattern forming here??), laughing, getting lost in a good book, creating new stories with my sons, making people laugh.

What are your vices?

Erm, Strawberry Pop Tarts… and anything sweet, really. I could eat massive bowls of cereal for each meal every day forever, with not enough room in the bowl for the milk. And then, for snacks, Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut. A whole bar. One of the big ones… or maybe more than one…

Where have you lived?

I am currently living in South West London, which I love, but I have lived in Southampton, Winchester, and have had a year-long home in Lilongwe, the capital city of the beautiful country of Malawi, which my sons and I stayed in on-and-off for a total of 6 months last year. I also call Swaziland and Johannesburg in South Africa my homes. We have family in both countries and it really feels like home when we go to visit them.

When did you start writing?

I have always loved writing and creating stories, and I think I was quite good at it at school. My only issue was self-confidence. When I left secondary school, I wanted to be a journalist and went into sixth-form with this in mind as my career goal. But I didn’t do well in my A-levels, and it knocked my confidence completely out of the park. I put it to the back of my mind. I got into working life and just didn’t have time to write! I did always, and still do, love to communicate via writing rather than verbally in person or on the phone – Thank goodess for the introduction of emails! I have recently decided it’s time to start the writing up again and have come up with a few ideas for novels. For the time being, I will be developing these ideas between work, kids, life, family, chores… and you can watch this space! I will be continuing with the blog, though, as it is really great to have a place to write whenever I feel the inspiration!

Why ‘Not So Goldilocks’?

I came up with the name after I found out that Bear MiniMum had been used already! It really comes from having three bears (my partner and two sons) and not very golden locks!

Anything else?

If you have any other questions for me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via email at notsogoldilocksblog@gmail.com.

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

Book Review: The Mummy Lessons by Helen Wallen

Parenting

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Firstly, I want to say that I only found out yesterday that The Mummy Lessons is the second book in what is hopefully a whole series, following the motherhood experiences of three childhood friends, Emily, Liz and Molly. I am clearly very late to this party! But, like many parties, it’s better to be late than not turn up at all. And, even without knowing the hosts, I still had an awesome time and ended the evening feeling like I knew them well. Plus, it left me wanting to go out and get that first book…

OK, that’s enough of the party metaphors.

It’s true that all three ladies in the book are completely different people, all doing the motherhood thing differently, but you can’t help but sympathise with them all in some way. As a mother, I have probably felt the same way as all of them at some stage in my own experience, and I think other mothers (and fathers) will find this, too. This is how Helen Wallen draws us in to the story – She makes us fully empathise with the characters. I am not going to spoil the story in any way, as that would be just mean (and make my partner, who is a writer of stories, very angry with me!), but it felt like I was reading the diaries, Whatsapp chats and blog posts (and witty poetry!) of my dearest mummy friends – Content that I’d heard, felt and seen before, but this was portrayed by other people… so WE ARE NOT ALONE then!

This is one of the main things that I loved about this book – Its familiarity. It made it a real joy to read. Even at the end of a day (or sixteen) where I have felt so tired and fed up, this book brightened me up and made me laugh out loud before bedtime. Helen’s language and her ease at telling her characters’ stories made it easy to follow and kept me entertained throughout, even when things weren’t going too well in the story (Again, no spoilers).

The book also reinforces the importance of mummy friends, and I think every mum will read this book and feel ever-more grateful for their village. I know I did. I don’t think any of the characters could have gone through these stages of motherhood without each other, and I genuinely feel this way about my own mummy group. Just reading the Whatsapp conversations about babies that won’t sleep, and getting messages at 4.30am and actually responding to them… I remember it all so well!

What sets this apart from other books of its kind is that it is completely fictional (It seems that most others seem to be either autobiographical or an advice book rather than a story), but there is still a hint of ‘hmmmm’ about whether Helen Wallen has used some of her own experiences to create the stories of her characters. I can imagine that most of the parents out there could split their crazy experiences across three separate and totally different characters and still manage to make the stories feel so real.

I genuinely enjoyed reading this book, and was sad when I’d finished it (Although I got a little taster of Helen’s first book, Baby Boom, at the end – Nice touch!). It made me feel warm and cosy, but also sad and empathetic at times. This crazy journey we’re on as parents can only be fully enjoyed with laughter, jokes, not-so-candid conversations about baby weaning and a few swear words, and Helen Wallen has brought that into print for us all to enjoy, and for really not that much money! If that’s not a tonic, I don’t know what is…

NSG xxx

Where else can you follow Helen Wallen aka Just A Normal Mummy other than physically stalking her and her family?

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Blog
  • Links to the books on Amazon can be found in their titles, above. The Mummy Lessons is available on Kindle for only 99p for a limited time only – Get your copy asap!

 

 

One Of Those Mornings…

Parenting

I know all of you will sympathise. We have just had ‘one of those days’ so far today. Some of you may have seen on my Instastory/FB Story that we had to wait for another bus while already running late as there were already two buggies on the bus we needed to catch. Well, this actually happened to us THREE bloody times today!! So, here is my checklist of things that have added up to a crappy morning…

  1. I am ill – I have the lurgy. The boys both gave it to me (mostly Nathi). I took some day nurse tablets, but they did a very lazy job.
  2. I had a scary dream about a massive, human-eating eagle. See photo for interpretation…
  3. We did really well up until the moment we had to leave which, of course, was the ONLY time Khaya decided he needed to take his Darth Vader costume out with us. And could I find it?! I also had to tell him that we didn’t have time for him to eat a yoghurt because we needed to leave NOW.
  4. We had to wait 9 minutes for a bus because of two other buggies being on the bus we could have caught which would have made us ON TIME for Nathi’s dance class. There is only one bus that can get us there without a mammoth walk at the other end. Joy.
  5. The boys both had tantrums when we arrived at the class. Nathi refused to take off his coat and shoes, and Khaya decided to stay out in the foyer. Here we were at a nice, fun dance class with lovely, well-behaved children, and my two boys are either rolling around screaming and shouting or opening the door and also pressing his face against the glass… #embarrassed
  6. One of my boys accidentally bumped into another child… and didn’t apologise.
  7. Nathi fell over and bumped his chin on the floor. At this point, I wanted to know how to reset either the whole day or all of us, one by one.
  8. We had to wait for the THIRD bus at our stop before we could get on. Bloody buggies everywhere! Even the driver commented on this.
  9. When we arrived at a children’s play cafe, neither of the boys would leave my side to go and play. Just annoying, but I can’t hold this against them. They clearly think I’m the bee’s knees.
  10. I spent £10 on two biscuits. Yep, that’s right. I didn’t even see this until I paid our bill. They were, in their defence, very beautifully decorated, but £5 each?! They’re going to get EATEN!
  11. We just missed another bus on our way home. I really, really wish I had a car sometimes…

So, that was our morning or, as I like to think of it, the universe’s way of telling us we shouldn’t have even attempted to leave the house today.

Please share any of your ‘one of those days’ with me – I’d love to hear about them! I won’t compare, I promise.

Here’s to a great weekend ahead,

NSG xxx

A Different Approach to Parenting

Parenting

I have just read an article which I’ve had saved on my Facebook account for about a week (We all know how difficult it is to get around to these things!) – An interview with the psychotherapist Philippa Perry (who is also married to the rather brilliant artist, Grayson Perry) about her new book, The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did). I felt compelled to share it with you all (just click on the book title to be taken magically to the article), as it really resonated with me. I am sure some of you other parents will also feel the same way when you read the interview. In fact, the interviewer herself, Robyn Wilder, draws upon her own very personal experiences as a child and a mother.

As a mother who is sometimes, or often if I’m being really honest, lacking in enthusiasm to engage with my children, this article really struck a chord. She is completely right, of course, and I know that I have some work to do to make sure that my boys don’t grow up to be depressed, anxious and, well, like me. Although, saying that, I read the article aloud to my mother, and she only commented on the fact that she never drank coffee (See the article for context)! The truth is that my mum gave her all to us when we were growing up, and put us before everything else, yet I still came into adulthood having bouts of depression and anxiety.

During the parenting journey, we probably don’t realise that the things we do and say can have such an incredible impact on our children. Perhaps we don’t realise until it’s too late. But, what Philippa Perry says is not to fret. We all make mistakes, we are all ‘bad parents’. Even the parents we think have it all sussed out have failed now and then. Sometimes, even on our really off days, we can still succeed. In this day and age of alternative parenting techniques, often written by people who don’t have children, this is a refreshing and rather logical book of ‘advice’ coming from a psychotherapist who has been working with people with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, as well as being a mother herself. Needless to say, I immediately followed the link to buy the book only to find out that it is currently not available. I hope that means that Philippa Perry has completely sold out and is now waiting for more books to be printed!

If you can, grab yourself a copy. I think it will be an interesting read for any parent and very different from the usual parenting advice books. If any of you have any other recommendations like this book, do let me know in the comments section of this post. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

Have a good week, followers and chums,

Not So Goldilocks xxx

What has NSG been up to this week?

Parenting

Hello followers! How are you all? I hope you’re having a good week, whether it is raining, windy, sunny, or all of the above.

It has been an interesting week in NSG Towers. Khaya turned a magnificent FOUR on Monday, and we took a rather brilliant trip to Hamley’s on Regent Street in order for him to choose his birthday present. We also promised Nathi an ‘unbirthday present’, which is a tradition in my family. Here are some of the highlights:

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We have also been busy seeing family, and making Baba Bear feel comfortable in his London home after being away for over a year.

Mama has been on a bit of a fundraising jolly, having raised over and above my goal for Ovacome through my birthday fundraiser. We now have an active family fundraiser for Comic Relief through JustGiving, which went live this evening. The boys took part in a cake sale at their nursery today, and we will all be tuning in to the Comic Relief live show on BBC1 tomorrow evening.

I was also very moved by the awful Ethiopian Airways plane crash this week. It was, quite frankly, way too close to home. Not only have we used that airline, and possibly that very aircraft, in the past, but my partner told me that he could have been on that flight if he’d decided to stay in Ethiopia a little longer for a work launch. He said that he would have flown any route to get him back to the UK that didn’t cost the earth, which very well may have included flying from Addis Ababa to Nairobi for a connecting flight. I can’t imagine what the families of those poor victims are going through right now. My thoughts are with them.

I have ordered more merchandise for my company, just for me, and have been working on a business plan to find out what I can do next. What kind of journey will this venture take me on? I never saw myself as someone who would need to know anything about business, but perhaps this is what I was meant to do after all.

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I am currently halfway through my amazing Start Writing Fiction course, which I signed up for through FutureLearn. It is free, and it is run by the Open University. I am really enjoying it, and am getting lots of interesting and useful guidance for my fiction writing. And, did I mention, IT’S FREE! I urge you to go to their site and see if there is a course for you. I bet there will be. Here you go: https://www.futurelearn.com/.

And now, we are gearing up for our friends at Two Gents’ production of The Importance of Being Earnest at Tara Arts Theatre in Earlsfield, SW18, which closes on Saturday night. If you’re local and fancy a night out, please book your tickets here. It’s a two-hander, both females, and should be a very interesting and entertaining night of theatre!

So, I hope everyone has a great weekend, and please donate anything you can to our Comic Relief fundraiser over on JustGiving. It all goes to the people who need it the most and, as much as I believe that this shouldn’t be how the world is in 2019, every little will help. Thank you, and goodnight.

NSG xxx

PS. I learned a little lesson in reblogging today, and how not to do it. I reposted a lovely post that I had enjoyed by another blogger on WordPress, but hadn’t made it clear enough that it wasn’t my own post… Needless to say, I had a concerned friend contact me by text about it, so immediately took it down again. Huge apologies to the blogger who wrote the original post – I am still learning!

World Book Day

Parenting

I am a book lover, so is my partner. Therefore my children had no choice but to be book lovers themselves! We frequent the marvellous local libraries in our borough and we have a lot of books that we read over and over again. I wanted to use this opportunity to show you all our top five favourites (in alphabetical order, links to purchasing sites when you click on the titles)…

1. BURGLAR BILL by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

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One of our favourite books, namely because Mama loves doing the voices of Burglar Bill and Burglar Betty (Got to love a glottal stop, or seventeen!). And we love ‘Boglaboll’. Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s books were really popular when I was a child, and they always seem to get it right. Their stories are timeless, and this is one of the classics for sure.

2. CHARLIE & B by Helen Webster

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This book is very special to us. It was written by the mum of a very dear friend, who lives in Johannesburg. It is set in Swaziland, where my partner grew up and where Nathi was born. It reminds us of the wonderful landscape of the country and features some indiginous creatures like porcupines and caracals. It’s funny and gorgeous, and the illustrations by Jess Jardim-Wedenpohl really capture the beauty of Swaziland… and dogs!

3. THE GRUFFALO by Julia Donaldson

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Julia Donaldson never gets it wrong. Her stories are so easy to read, so entertaining and imaginative. The Gruffalo will be on many of your top-five lists, I’m sure. It’s a wonderful story with a very brave and courageous, and slightly cocky, protagonist!

4. POO BUM by Stephanie Blake

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I think this is my favourite children’s book ever. When I first read it, I howled with laughter. Originally written in French, with the title ‘Caca Boudin’ (which is wonderful, isn’t it), the book follows a young rabbit who can only say ‘Poo Bum’. So, when a wolf wants to eat him, he replies ‘Poo Bum’. He is then subsequently eaten by the wolf, who then becomes poorly and calls the doctor. I won’t spoil the last part of the story because you need to find out for yourselves, but I urge you to find a copy of this book asap.

5. THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA by Judith Kerr

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A childhood classic for generations and generations. I love this story because the family just seem to be OK about a tiger coming to tea. I admit I have never really understood the underlying message of the story… Is Sophie telling her daddy a story (which would seem plausible given the language of the writing)? Was it a story to cover up the fact that Sophie and her mum had a massive feast and ate everything in the house? Or is it simply a girl’s idea of what it would be like if a tiger did come to tea? Any suggestions welcome, and I’m sorry if I seem dense!

So, these are our top five. What are yours? Do you have any books that you read over and over again, to the point that you don’t actually need to physically read them anymore? I often read ‘Poo Bum’ to Khaya when we didn’t have the book, and I remembered it word-for-word. I also remember being in Cape Town with my partner’s cast mates and asking them all to take turns to read it in their own way. It was very entertaining! I think my partner reads it best. His wolf voice is perfect.

Happy World Book Day to you all, and I hope you have all had fun, not stress, getting your kids ready for the celebrations at school! Let’s all keep our libraries going by regularly visiting and borrowing books. Kindles are great, but you can’t beat a proper book, especially for children.

NSG xxx