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More from Filey: bubbles are always popular with my family.


“You wave yours; I’m going to try blowing mine.”

“My turn!”


Trying to find the knack.

Boys posing for the camera.

Full of food.


Last summer we managed to get sufficiently organised to have a mass family outing to Filey – my parents, one of my dad’s sisters and her husband, and all my siblings plus partners, children and dogs.It was a perfect day – the sun shone, the sky was blue, and the tide went out and came in at the perfect time (let’s ignore the winter trip to the seaside when we forgot to check high tide time and therefore never set foot on the sand).

We parked up on Filey Brig, then headed down to the beach:

Yorkshire white boys, factor 50 applied and ready for anything.


Dad and daughter.

Dogs had fun too.

The Coble Landing.

Hat too big?

Weeny waves, but enough to make for a refreshing dip.

More tomorrow.


I am 45 years old. I have spent my whole working life avoiding the family business like the plague – right up until six months ago. What started as a few hours a week has gone up to a minimum of 20. I have had a lot of emotional stuff to work out over the last few months. It’s a long, angsty and sometimes boring story, so I shall limit this post to my tips for emotional survival:

Point 1: Don’t let things get to me. I am not the same person I was 20, 30 or 40 years ago, and by extension neither are my siblings or parents. Sometimes people pull a certain face, or say things in a certain way, just because they have always done it that way. It does not mean I am a waste of space.

Which leads to point 2: I’m intelligent, educated and have excellent people skills. I need to keep mixing with people who freely acknowledge my abilities if I am going to stay sane, and this means keeping non-family jobs going as well.

Point 3: If something needs doing focus on the task. Generally ignore personality clashes and just keep talking in a voice of sweet reason. Remind myself frequently of point 2 (above). At the same time, take several deep and calming breaths before meeting up with non-family colleagues so I don’t end up throwing myself into their arms sobbing with relief.

Point 4: Don’t be afraid to tell a family member that they’re being a dickhead and you’re fed up with their behaviour. Sometimes a chain needs to be yanked.

Point 5: Aloe vera gel tastes lousy, but a shot of that every morning has turned out to be a great help in calming my regular ‘sick to the stomach with tension’ feelings.

Point 6: Keep reminding myself of why I’m doing this. There are several reasons, with the primary one being to support my sister, and it still feels valid even when she’s pulling faces.

“I like reading your blog,” my brother Jimbob said today. ” You write from the heart. I can hear you speak as I read.”

What a fabulous thing to say to a sister.

He had one complaint; that I do not post often enough. So here I am, Saturday evening, sprawled on the sofa with a dog curled up beside me to keep me warm, laptop open and thinking hard. What can I write about today that comes from the heart.



I ate too much jelly and ice cream for my tea. My husband filled the bowl and brought it to me, and I ate it all for the jelly was Rowntree’s strawberry and smelt delicious and the ice cream was Mackie’s Traditional, in my opinion the finest ice cream in the world. It looked rather like the bowlful above but not quite – I borrowed this image from someone else’s website as I was more intent on eating than photography.

But first of all I had a little sandwich, with a few crisps, and then some pizza. Then the jelly and ice cream. Plus I made a cake this afternoon, and I have to eat at least a small piece of that.

So it’s a fair bet that I’ll be suffering from heartburn before bedtime.

Here endeth today’s words from the heart.

See that book? That’s my Bible. I found a copy in a secondhand shop, ooh, must be at least 12 years ago now, and loved it. Lent it out to a friend, never got it back. Found more secondhand copies on Amazon and bought two, one to lend out and one which never leaves my desk.

Each chapter is an interview with a woman who fulfils three criteria: that she has at least three children; that she has a high-flying career, and that she has remained married to the father of her children for at least 25 years. Ms Grove did the interviews in the hope that she would find the secrets of how they did it, but found the women had surprisingly little in common apart from help around the house and a conviction that to not do all three things was unthinkable.

Were she to publish a new edition (that one came out in 1987) I would not qualify for entry. I have three children. I’ve been married for 23 years so I’m nearly there on that one. However I’m nowhere near having a highflying career, or even feeling that I’ve achieved something worthwhile. I don’t think I’m a failure (or do I?) but I’m frustrated that I’ve not got further in my working life.

Admittedly it hasn’t helped that I abandoned one career when I had my babies – but I was bored with it, so I don’t regret it. It hasn’t helped that I decided I loved medical/ psychological research, when finding a research job is hard enough when you’re young and free to shoot around the country and work as many hours as it takes. But I don’t regret my (belated) university education; it has been worth every penny, every hour and every bout of tears.

So what do I have, in career terms? A BSc, an MSc, a diploma in childbirth education, journalism experience, masses of experience in organising, planning and teaching antenatal courses, retail experience. What I don’t have: a decent regular income. What do I do to get one? I have no idea.

My youngest son is in his final year of GCSEs and will be moving on to A-levels, so that’s two and a half years before he’ll be leaving home. My antenatal teaching income has been slashed due to less work available – which I don’t actually mind because I was ready for a break. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to replace it. I’m doing some work for the family business (using my retail skills). I have odd days of work linked to research, and the prospect of a little more work teaching NCT people about research, which will be good. But I don’t have a plan. Or a path. Or a decent, reliable income with which to feed my family, clothe myself, pay off my debts and start saving for my looming old age.

I don’t want to leave the family business (despite having spent the vast majority of my working life avoiding it) for all sorts of reasons. I don’t want to totally abandon the NCT stuff – I’ve been doing it for a long time and feel I have lots to pass on to the next generation of teachers and practitioners. I don’t want to turn away from the research stuff because I love it and have worked hard to gain this knowledge.

BUT. It’s not a terribly cohesive working life. And it doesn’t pay. What/ where next?

Ideas on a postcard please.

PS. If anyone wants to produce a new version of Ms Grove’s book, I’d buy it like a shot. Let’s see if the women who’ve achieved those goals in the last 25 years have any more wisdom to share regarding woman’s eternal quest.