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Back to what I know best…..

So many apologies for being absent for so long….. I have no excuses apart from being distracted with every day life. So, sorry to any of you that are disappointed with my pathetic attempt to build a blogging path/career!  However, you gotta keep trying.. so I am determined to change this situation and embrace this ‘blogging’ journey as intended from the beginning. I know, yawn.. yawn I have said that before, I know, but at least I am REAL I suppose…?? Life does just simply get in the way when you have three children, a husband and a cat, and your not a spring chicken anymore..

Anyway enough of that ‘get the violins out bo***xs’! Lets get chatting… I felt inspired to write about something that really affected me in a big way over the last couple of months, and why we should not presume that things will always fall into place.

I have always been one of those people that seemed to attract drama and negative shit in my life but have always found away of dealing with it. I was fortunate enough to be employed in various jobs throughout my twenties whist building my portfolio, to eventually work as a hair and make-up artist. Whatever came my way and however bad it got there always seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  After relocating once again with my husbands job, I was determined that I was going to get back into teaching ‘hair and make-up’. Over the years I had been lucky enough to teach in several different colleges across the country, but had never gained any formal teaching qualifications. So crossing off one of my new years resolutions, I decided to enrole at Gloucester College in Cheltenham. I completed a 12 week course in teaching and loved every minute of it. My ‘older’ brain was certainly put to the test after being absent from studying for a good 20 years.. and although at times I felt anxious and full of self doubt, I pushed through and completed it.

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So this is the bit that threw me… Okay, as mentioned before I am no spring chicken, in all honesty, I am heading the other side of 40. I needed to find a job.. How hard could this be? Confident with my new qualification and slightly smug at doing better than I thought I would on the course, I braved this new world of ’employment’ and started job hunting.

After 14 years of being a ‘stay at home mum’ and working freelance part-time, I felt safe and secure in my day to day life. Becoming a Mum was one of the best things that had ever happened to me and gave me the deepest sense of achievement which I desperately craved. However, once the children were less needy of me I knew it was time to get some of my own identity back and to think about work. It was strange as part of me  liked the idea of ‘pinteresting’ work outfits, and visualising my own office with structure and routine., but part of me felt an overwhelming guilt towards the children. I felt like I was being disloyal to them and would often ‘fret’ about the prospect of leaving them to go out to work. (I have always felt hugely grateful to my husband for working really hard to allow me to have the luxury of being able to stay at home).

Anyway getting back to the job hunting, within weeks of leaving the college armed with my new qualification I found a job! Yay! (Not so yay actually!) It was exactly up my street teaching media make-up and hair. Without going into too many details about the interview, the long and short of it was that I didn’t bloody get it!! WTF! Bruised ego, I dusted myself off and went for another two interviews in different things. Guess what I didn’t get those either… My confidence was rock bottom.. and so was my bank account..The one thing I very quickly realised was how fierce the competition had become once you got older. There are also many things to consider now when attending an interview. I had been out of the game for along time.. I just wasn’t prepared….

So after some real deep thinking and self analysing, I decided to go back to what I know best -Freelance Hair and Make-up… With the right advertising and marketing I am now firmly back on that horse and loving every minute of it… I don’t feel that I have failed in trying something new but that I have now regained a new love for what I am already good at. Sometimes it just takes a bit of reevaluating yourself and where you need to be..

Do any of you feel that sometimes you are just stuck in a rut and need a change?

Please feel free to drop me a line. I would love to read your comments..

Much Love

Gemmax

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italy

So it’s this time of year again, the sun is shining, spring is in full bloom, and I am googling like crazy ‘family holidays’. I have to admit that it is my guilty pleasure. I have always loved to travel. It is in my blood. I love to explore… I think it’s genetic. My Grandad spent most of his life in the military and had lived all over the world with my nan. He had the most amazing stories to tell as I was growing up. His love of exploring, certainly rubbed off on me. My first real experience of travelling was when a friend suggested going to live on a kibbutz in Israel as a volunteer. What’s a kibbutz I hear you say? I had certainly never heard of one. My friend told me we would be staying with a community of people and helping them with producing ‘Olives’ for the rest of the world. Kind of strange I thought, but hey’ I was up for the adventure, what the hell. So, before I knew it, my backpack was packed and the ‘middle east’ became my new home for the next six months. It was a truly magical experience and one that I will certainly be telling my future grandchildren. (But that’s another blog post)..

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As a family of five with an average income, I think it is fair to say that finding a reasonably priced holiday is bloody hard. In 2015 after years of staying in England whilst the children were little, we decided to book our first ‘all inclusive’ package holiday to Majorca. Sadly, it was not what we expected, and ended up being a real let down. I take full responsibility for being so naive when booking holidays. Why was I the only person in the world not to check trip advisor? What an idiot!! I could write a whole blog post on why never to go to BelleVue  in Alcudia, but I would rather not go back there mentally ( if you know what I mean!)

So, last year I was determined to get all the boxes ticked and booked Eurocamp in Italy. We had been to one in France when I had only the boys, and really loved it. Perfect for families, right on the beach, great entertainment… good food… What more could you ask for? However, once again I felt disappointed and let down with the Eurocamp in Italy. Shabby accommodation, a freezing swimming pool and an expensive on site shop and not forgetting the super ‘rip off’ restaurant that was just simply out of our budget.

I questioned whether it was me? Am I a secret holiday snob?? No, I just honestly think you get what you pay for when holidaying abroad on a budget… So, once again we made the most of it and enjoyed spending quality time with each other as a family (  ignoring the general arguments that took place on a daily basis) and visiting some great places.

 

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Venice Italy

 

 

 

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I have to admit the pizza’s were amazing and came in true Italian style. Although we were fairly surprised by the pizza that came with chips as seen in the picture above.

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As we were able to get a discount through my husbands job, we realised very quickly that once we were shown the accommodation we had definitely been given the rubbish deal. My word of advice is to check everything before you book.

The saving grace of the holiday was most definitely the entertainment and the activities that were available, oh and of course the beach. So it was not all doom and gloom…

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I would love to know your comments on family holidays and if you have any recommendations of places to go… I am still in the process of looking for this year..

Much Love

Gemma xxx

School Bake Sale

Is it me or do your kids schools have loads of Bake Sales?? OMG! Every other month my children come home with paper plates in their book bags that the school have given them to fill up with lots of HOMEMADE cakes. Who the hell has the time to just knock up a load of cakes? It also seems that their is an over whelming pressure to produce some amazing creations. How many of you have thought ‘sod it’ and dashed to the nearest shop and bought something that may resemble a fairy cake hoping that would do!?  I can honestly say I am not guilty of that, not because I am super Mum or anything, but because I have MASSIVE Mum shame and always surrender to the little buggers begging me to bake NOW! When I was a kid the only ‘Bake sale’ you would stumble across would be at a fate that your Mum and Granny would drag you to with a lucky dip and a hook the fishy game if you were lucky’.. When did this become such a thing ??

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Don’t get me wrong, baking with the children is lovely and all that jazz and the main thing is that they adore it which always makes it worth it, but I have to say it would be a whole lot better without the dam pressure. Do any other Mums feel like this, or is it just me??

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Tips on making quick school cakes for the ‘Bake Sale’

  • Be SUPER organised. Have all your ingredients in jars already to go. Then you can just whip them out of the cupboard and your good to go.
  •  Have plenty of cup cake cases.
  • A decent set of weighing scales is a must!
  • Invest in a good mixer this is life saving.. I got mine for Christmas. There are many different types. The Kitchen Aids are the latest trends for you posh folk or a good old Morphy Richards is just as good.
  • Cupcake tins. I particularly like the muffin tins as they are much deeper and hold the cupcake cases really well.
  • A recipe is helpful.
  • Make a simple cupcake look appealing by adding chocolate flake, a giant button, twirl or better still a Jaffa cake, to the buttercream. I have found these always go down well.
  • STAY CALM
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Cupcakes in muffin tin

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I would love to know your comments on ‘The School Bake sale’.

New Year..New Chapter….

‘Happy New Year! To anyone that may have accidentally stumbled across this blog. I was so determined to get a post up before February but sadly failed!! Oh, dear!…

I promised myself this year that things are going to be different. No more unrealistic goals. Just time to make changes for the better. Yeah right, I hear you say. Seriously, I tell myself, this can be done, but it may take time and will not happen overnight. You have just got to WANT it…. Last year my goal was to start a blog and write three blog posts a week… EPIC FAIL!!  Never happened…How many of you seriously start the year off with all those amazingly, good intentions and by February, old habits have crept back in and your lying on the sofa feeling sorry for yourself…? ME!!!! No More. Make SMALL changes and you will feel a ZILLION times better, I hope…

So, for me it was all about pushing myself out of my COMFORT ZONE and finally finding the balls to go back to college and rediscover my brain. Yes, I do have one, I think…Trust me, the moment I stepped into the classroom, I literally sh** myself for want of a better expression and wanted to find the nearest exit… but the inner voice in me screamed ‘Stay put you idioimg_7044t, this is for you…  No more excuses, no more hiding behind the kids, you seriously need to get your sh** together.’

So, what are you studying  I hear you say?

Well, I have always worked on and off as a Hair and Make-up artist, with some childminding thrown in the mix (it helps when you have small kids!) I used to also teach Hair and Make-up to students all over London and a few years in Nottingham but the serious TRUTH is I always felt like I was ‘WINGING IT’. Yep, my conscious was screaming at me to go and get qualified and do the right thing. So, there you are… I am on my way to finally getting my teaching qualifications. Yay to me!

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Screen shot from pinterest

Another change that I wanted to make was to get the kids away from screens as much as humanly possible. After relocating further down South, towards the latter part of last year, I felt like there were no more excuses to be made. Fresh, country air, beautiful green fields and different places to visit. So, I decided that I would try and visit a different place each month. The first place being BATH. What a truly glorious place…

 

 

 

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The Roman Baths

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Enjoying the commentary

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Teenage son bored and hungry

My anxious child

I have taken weeks ‘over thinking’ this post. I suppose I am not massively confident writing about something that I have no professional training in. But something inside me felt compelled to explain and express as an ordinary MUM what it felt like to see my 6 year old daughter go through a really ROUGH patch in her young life. I like to think as any mum that I have brought my children up to be well rounded, good mannered, confident, happy individuals. They have all had their moments not wanting to go to school and resisting a bit, which is relatively normal, but nothing could prepare me for what I had to endure with my daughter April.

It was a typical Friday afternoon when I picked her up from school, both of us relieved that the school week was over and the weekend lay ahead. April lovingly greeted me as usual and  we then collected her brother. On the way home in the car she began to tell me how, earlier in the morning, a little girl sitting close to her was violently sick. April explained in great detail the colour and the smell which I will spare you from. However, as she was talking, she started to breath very rapidly and her eyes welled up with tears. I was quite taken aback with her reaction but just brushed it off as us mums do, muttering something like “ah, the poor little thing, I hope she’s okay, anyway what would you like for dinner tonight?”

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The weekend was taken up with the usual racing to clubs and various other activities, but before we knew it, it was Sunday evening and uniforms were being ironed and shoes polished (am I the only one that polishes shoes on a Sunday?) ready for the new week ahead.

As we sat down to watch a film with our bellies full from our usual over sized roast dinner, I noticed April rapidly breathing again. I was confused whether I should say something as I didn’t want to draw attention to it, even though the over protective mum in me was desperate to make it go away. After a few minutes I addressed the situation.  Immediately, she welled up with tears again and said that she couldn’t breath properly, and that she wouldn’t be able to go to school on Monday.  My husband rolled his eyes as husbands do, probably because I was drawing attention to it and he was thinking here we go again (with the school thing I mean, not the anxiety).  She was sobbing in a way different to how I had ever seen her sob before. My heart literally broke.  My confident, happy-go-lucky little girl was lost in a world of confusion and deep fear, suffering with mild panic attacks. Where had this come from? Was this a genetic predisposition?

I have always suffered with anxiety as child which has unfortunately carried on into my adult life. I have tried very hard to overcome it for years. No, not by doing a bungee jump or anything remotely stupid like that but instead, forcing myself into situations that put me out of my comfort zone. Travelling to Australia alone in 1995 was such an example. But sadly, anxiety never really leaves you. It is always lurking in the background and ready to rear its ugly head. My anxiety peaked after having my first child. I was like a frigging lunatic on speed. It’s only in hindsight that you cringe at the things you did.  But on reflection, I know it was the anxiety monster.

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So, for the next three weeks I tried everything in my power to reassure my little girl that things were going to be okay; but nothing seemed to work. We had endless confidence conversations. I encouraged her with gifts and possibly bribes, but the tears and panic attacks kept coming.  I researched ‘child anxiety’ to death, Googling behaviour methods and strategies, but nothing seemed to work. This monster had a hold of her and wasn’t  letting go. I then decided that we needed professional help. I felt very depressed about it. Had I passed on my anxiety to her? I beat myself up as all mothers do.

Then a remarkable thing happened out of the blue. During our walk to school which would of normally have been very tense, April turned around to me and said very maturely, “Mummy, I have thought about what you said and I think I can control it, I will try my hardest not to cry today”. And just like that, she stopped crying. I can’t honestly say what stopped it, but my heart jumped for joy. My own anxiety started to disappear as my little, confident girl returned.

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My happy-go-lucky little girl.

While I am in no position to give advice, there are a few methods I think you could try if you ever think you may be in this situation:-

  • Try to get to the root of how the anxiety started.
  • NEVER make a child feel bad about it.
  • Talk about it openly.
  • Discuss with them how they think they can help it.
  • Try breathing exercises on the way to school.
  • ALWAYS make sure the child goes to school.
  • Inform the teachers and the welfare department of the school.
  • Keep strong.
  • Try not to get angry and impatient.
  • Have faith that it will get better.

 

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My April

I would love to hear if anyone else has experienced something similar. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Much love

Gemma x

 

Easter trip to Cornwall

I have been SUPER rubbish with finding time to sit down and write this blog. However, as it is the second week of the Easter holidays and the kids are occupied, it seems now is the perfect time to finally write this piece about my recent trip to Cornwall.

have been holidaying in Cornwall since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (my husbands favourite expression). It holds many fond memories of travelling down with ALL my family; mum, dad, siblings, grandparents, aunties, uncles and a few dogs thrown into the mix. My eccentric grandfather would load the car up, stuffing every possible thing into every spare corner, throwing the roof rack on top and bundling the suitcases on whilst wrapping a load of bungee cord around with complete faith that they would stay put for the duration of our journey. The dogs would then be squeezed in and off we would go. Nothing was organised, and everything was a little bit rough around the edges but it seemed to work. We loved it! I really miss those days and sometimes think that even though you try to recreate those experiences and memories with your own family, it never is quite the same.

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Cornish wind turbine

I remember reluctantly eating marmite sandwiches and a couple of chocolate digestives, washed down with stale, over brewed flasks of tea for the journey (that I quite liked actually), and playing eye spy and various other ‘car games’ to keep us from moaning about how long the journey was, so that the familiar question of “are we there yet?” was not really an issue back then. But now it is replaced with  McDonald’s breakfast and other unhealthy snacks that are easily accessible. I am also ashamed to admit that my three kids are plugged into their electrical gadgets with headphones for the duration which is utter bliss but sadly so wrong at the same time. We do say every year that we will make a healthy lunch for the journey and no electrical gadgets but it never seems to happen…

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Hayle Beach

Now I will let you into a little secret. Hayle is the place I have been going to for over forty years. I am always reluctant to tell many people where we go as I have always felt soooo protective of it ever being ruined by tourists. St Ives is literally down the road, along with Carbis Bay which Zoella (the YouTuber) recently blogged about.  Hayle is my slice of ‘Heaven’. To be honest Hayle is not everyones cup of tea, however, the fact that it holds many happy memories for me and the views are just out of this world is enough for me to say it’s my little sanctuary away from the big smoke!

The estuary is REALLY special to me as it makes me feel melancholic. My husband lived in Hayle from the age of eight and used to play on the estuary whilst I was holidaying in the chalets on Hayle Towans with my family. He has different memories to me of the estuary and Hayle, but he still loves to reminisce of the care free days of his childhood, where he would spend hours playing along the river bank exploring the different crevices and generally being a bit of a daredevil. However, in the last decade I have taken to walking each day with my family and catching up on what’s being going on in each others lives. It has always been a kind of therapy, whilst taking in the scenic views of the estuary and beautifully maintained gardens.

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When you visit Cornwall you must have a traditional cream tea. I emphasise the word ‘traditional’ as the scones should be homemade. It really is not the same without ‘homemade’ scones. We came across a cute little cafe called The Madhatter (also a bed & breakfast), with the smell of baking wafting out the door. My kids adore them. The clotted cream is to die for and the jam mixed with it is just pure bliss!!

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The pasty is the iconic food of Cornish miners. My husbands love of pasties is rather ridiculous as he has been known to have three in one day. We are also pretty fussy when choosing the perfect pasty; a well known bakery in Hayle called Philps is definitely the best in that area; their review on google is “Excellent, no nonsense, delicious cornish pasties”. We agree. Mouth watering fillings, and again, amazing home cooked smells engulf this shop. It is so popular people queue every lunchtime for this pure indulgence.

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One of the best days of the holiday was the wonderful sight of the seals at Godrevy Point. It is just simply … amazing! The seals adore this cove as it is secluded and sheltered, away from human interference.

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Cornish Icecream

I definitely recommend you stop at Mr B’s Icecream Parlour in Hayle. It truely is the best icecream and pretty reasonably priced. There is nothing like Cornish icecream.

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Scampi and chips

To end our rather ‘unhealthy’ holiday we popped down to the local pub and grabbed some scampi and chips. The Bluff has served my family for over forty years and has changed management several times. Although the reviews on trip advisor are not great, this place holds some fond memories for me. The food is what I call easy, simple, classic food, although pretty unhealthy. Anyway, I can honestly say this has got to of been the best scampi and chips that I have had in along time.. succulent, melt in your mouth, indulgence…

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Mum, sister and me

So that concludes this Easter break… I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I have. If you have not experienced a trip to Cornwall it’s well worth the journey. I have given you a tiny snippet of places to go, there are many more.

I would love to know about your Easter break and what you got up to. Please feel free to comment.

Much love

Gemma xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mums the word

Mothers day

Mothers day is the one time of the year I REALLY love.  I am not going to lie it usually takes a little prompting to my husband; but that’s a man thing right?  It gives me time to stop and reflect on how much I actually do for the family, and how important our ‘roles’ of mothers are.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel totally blessed to be a mother and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, that it is the most rewarding experience of my life. It will NEVER be without it’s challenges and stresses, however, this is part of the journey right?

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My lovely gifts.

My children really pulled out the stops this year, which I can honestly say bought a tear to my eye.  I am not sure if other schools do the same, but at their school, they do this thing  where they have a ‘mini shop’ and they can choose their mum’s gifts for mothers day. Do they do this at your kids schools?  I think it’s pretty awesome.  My children chose a lovely little photo frame and a butterfly tea light holder. Bless them….My eldest son went for flowers, chocolates and one of my favourite magazines. I am presuming my husband threw in the Prosecco for good measure 🙂

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Cornwall 2015

Mothers day is also a great time to spoil our own mothers too.  I spent many years living away from my mother, so, was delighted when my husband said we would be moving back to live near my family for a bit..  My mum in my opinion, has always looked amazing for her age and never a day goes by when I am not inspired by her spirit and zest for life.  She has battled cancer a few times round, has had many operations and still makes time to put on her make-up and earrings everyday.  I mentioned earrings as my mum is obsessed with them, oh and shoes of course. She never has too many…My love for fashion and beauty and shopping is most definitely from my mum and nan  (who is touching 95).

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Wig party for cancer research 2015

As my nan quotes from a young age I was always my mum’s ‘tail’. Never away from her.. I adored her. She has always had this ‘magical way’ with children, not just with her own but with others, which made her role as a childminder so brilliant.! Her relationship with my children continues to make me have that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. She is never one to miss a party and loves to have a good boogie after a few gin and tonics!

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A few gifts I bought Mum.

Never one to pass up the opportunity to go SHOPPING, I truly love buying pressies, any excuse, and I am on the hunt to find something special. My mother has to be the easiest person to buy for which makes the whole experience super exciting..

 

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Waitrose came up trumps for gifts this year.

One of the gifts I was drawn to was this cute, little flask. I knew my mum would really love it. Once a year the family make a very long  trip to Cornwall;  we always take heaps of food for the journey and someone will bring a dodgy, old flask with luke warm tea.  So, I thought this year my mother would like her own.

The other gifts if I am honest, just co-ordinated well (sad I know).  I just loved the pinks and purples in the tulips; so much so, I had to go and buy some myself.

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So that concludes my MOTHERS DAY for 2016. It was bloody great!

I would love to know what you got up to, please feel free to comment.

Much love

Gemma x

 

Children’s Parties

How much do we spend on Children’s parties?

Not only do we spend a fortune on our own children’s parties, we are then expected to ‘cough up’ loads of money throughout the year on other kids parties.

Gone are the days of a few sandwiches, cheese and pineapple on sticks and ‘pass the parcel’; we are now expected to provide a hall, entertainment and sweetie cones…don’t forget the sweetie cones..!

What is an acceptable amount to spend on other people’s children? Is it only me that worries about this kind of stuff? What if they have twins or a joint party?

All I know is that I have been a mother for 13 years and every party my children have been invited to, I seem to question this.? Do parents scrutinise the presents you buy their little ones and then judge you for it, or do they throw them on the pile with all the other tat  people have given them or even put them away(especially if they are duplicates) for another child’s party? I confess I have been known to do the LATTER ssshhh!

 

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H&M skirt and false plait, I bought for a little girls party.

My daughter has been invited to at least five parties this year, I almost dread another invitation at the bottom of her book bag ( I know that sounds mean but really!)  I generally spend between £7.00-£10.00. I like to try and put a bit of thought into present buying, but this can sometimes be really difficult on a budget. (I can see this definitely being another blog post!) Then you need the card and wrapping paper… that’s £15.00, at least! Is this too much to spend?

I would love to hear your comments…

Happy Saturday..  Gemma:)x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentines day is over..

I started writing this blog post and then stopped as it took a while for me to try to get my head round what it was I wanting to say. However, after much thought I felt compelled to write about the sadness of this day.. Is Valentines day over…?

I have never been one for ‘gushing’ celebrations, or even massive romantic gestures, however, growing up in the 80’s I remember, at school this being a big deal!  The excitement and prospect of someone fancying you, was the best feeling in the world, and the thought of getting a card with a question mark at the bottom would evoke the most uplifting, ego boosting emotions one could ever desire. If you were shy and secretly longed to connect with someone, this was your chance.. The fact that it was the only form of communicating without any other intervention, was the main reason it made it so exciting.

So, why has this gradually disappeared?  Has social media yet again intervened and destroyed another authentic tradition?

So ,when I say to my 13 year old ‘Did you get any Valentine cards?’ he shrugs and walks off not knowing what the hell I am talking about and buries his head in his world of ‘you tube’.. this sadly not only makes me feel old, but strangely sad….

I would love to know what you think about Valentines day, and if you feel because of the modern world we now live in, times have changed and romance is not what it used to be..

Please feel free to comment

Gemma x

 

 

 

 

 

Avocado Obsession

January Lunch

I have to confess, I have become slightly addicted to avocados.

After a somewhat hectic Christmas, I jumped on the band-wagon of ‘Lets get healthy’… but in all seriousness, I felt so grossed out.  After almost consuming my own body weight in cheese, chocolate and baileys, I decided this year is going to be different.  No more scales or slimming clubs, just pure dedication to health.

After years and years of being told avocados are so ‘fattening’, I feel I have been liberated, and it feels darn good…..

No more obsessing over calories and numbers, just pure healthy eating and regular exercise… really I hear myself say, have I only just realised this at the ripe old age of 40 something?

I never thought how versatile an avocado can be, not only for your diet but also for your skin in the form of a face mask. The benefits are endless.  Avocado can be mixed with a salad, spread on toast, eaten in  a wrap or with crackers.  It also tastes nice with many things such as mango, feta cheese, houmous and  even eggs.  I  just love it!

I would be excited to know what other people have for lunch, and if anyone else has a ‘go to lunch staple’ that they feel slightly obsessed with.