I can’t remember the exact moment I decide I wanted to care for children. When people ask how I manage to work for one of the most amazing children’s hospital in the world, I shrug my shoulders and say “I just sort of do”
I remember walking into the ward for the first time, at least a dozen faces staring back at me, I never realised these faces would become great friends of mine. They would be there during the busy shifts, supporting me when I didn’t know a thing, teaching me patiently. Through the many nights shifts, even at four am, the funniest people I have ever met. I didn’t imagine spending my New Year’s Eve with them, polystyrene cups of Shloer, huddled on the balcony in the rain, craning our necks over the rooftops trying to see the fireworks. I certainly never thought they would be the only people I would turn to at the end of a long shift, tears in my eyes, whether that from sadness or too much laughter. But here I am, a year down the line, and that’s exactly what has happened.
I also never imagined how much these kiddies would “affect” me. I’ve never been the maternal type. But the children I see, I could scoop them all up and bring them home! The most beautiful little humans in the whole world.
When they first come in, just after diagnosis, they are so scared. Away from home, wondering what all these people are doing to them. The tears and screams, clinging on to mum like their life is depending on it. But then the nights pass and something changes. Some of our families spend weeks with us, with a couple of breaks in between chemo we truly become a second family.
And I know I shouldn’t say it, but there are always families you bond with more than others. You don’t pick them and they certainly don’t pick you but something just happens and they pull at your heart strings in a way that you never imagined. I couldn’t describe it to you, I couldn’t put it into words.
Because unfortunately not all our tiny humans survive these trials. The chemo is too much, this god awful disease is just too much for their tiny little bodies to take. And I could never say to you how upsetting it is for me, because that pain must be a fraction of what those parents feel.
Another thing I never imagined when I walked on the ward, that I’d be sat side by side with these girls, tissues in hand, watching a tiny white coffin float by.
But unfortunately, that happened too.
So when I was taking a five minute stroll to buy a sneaky Dr Pepper and a bounty bar, I saw the poster and immediately thought “Yes!! I can do that!”
And ran straight back to the ward, ideas brewing in my mind.
Then came the doubts, I’d not long recovered from a knee replacement, that’s a long story, for another time perhaps, could I physically do it??
But then the girls at work, without even knowing it, helped me make my decision, of course I could. If Lottie and Jen could train their bodies to run a bloody marathon, surely with the right training I can do this?!
Of course I have no intention of doing it on my own… So I’ve recruited a few of these amazing people I work with. I’m not entirely sure if they know what they’ve fully signed themselves up for, but I’m extremely proud to say that we are going to climb the worlds tallest free standing mountain. Kilimanjaro.
And we are doing it for all those tiny humans we work with. The money we raise will go towards new equipment essential for us to care for them. And let me tell you, it’s not a small amount. We need between us £60000. As well as the equipment and also an 18 week training plan, around our 13hour shifts. Not an easy task. But then again nor is cancer.
So I’m asking you, as person who has witnessed the miracles of these poorly children, who survive the chemo, survive the bone marrow transplant and get to go home, we need more research, we need more donors. Please visit and sign up for a swab of your cheek. You could be a match and you really could save a life. And trust me there is no greater gift you could give to anyone than that.
And I’m also asking you as a person who has witnessed the heartbreak of the not so lucky, the angels taken from us, that we really need the equipment and research to find new ways to fight this manipulative, awful disease. So please donate and help fund our Kilimanjaro trek and donate straight to Great Ormond Street hospital. Our JustGiving page has just been created, which will provide you with up to date information on our journey through training and the trek itself.
Also, take a minute and visit @swab4margot, or search Team Margot on Facebook. It’s a story of a beautiful little girl I have had the pleasure of looking after, you can see for yourself the difference we can make.
Thank you.

A fine line

I’m going to take you back to the first summer I’d moved out of my parents house and into my first flat share with my best friends. We’d finally done it. What we had wanted to do since college. Moved out, found the most amazing place in the city, with a balcony you could see over Southbank. It was literally heaven.
Of course then came the mandatory house warming party planning. Sally had recently started seeing a guy, I had previously, how I do say it politely… Fooled around with. We’d been friends previously, good friends, but there was always a chemistry, despite him being four years younger. So after a few drinks we’d quite literally fallen into bed together, and much to my surprise the sex was amazing. We’d continued like this for the whole of the previous summer. I’d just split with my long term boyfriend and I only wanted fun. And when I sensed he wanted more, it was time to cut the cord and send him on his way. I’d never imagined that way would be into the arms of my best friend. Strangely, I wasn’t jealous. I knew I couldn’t give him what he wanted, and she could. They were cute together, although we all knew it wouldn’t last. When a girl is four years younger than the guy, that’s fine. But a girl being four years older than the guy, it’s a recipe for disaster. Especially when said guy is still in his teens.
But we didn’t say anything. She had also spilt with a long term boyfriend, the one, so she deserved this little bit of fun, just like I had.
So Sal and Hugh sat down with me and Clara and we planned a few friends, lots of vodka and the perfect summer party for that weekend.
Saturday came and the sun rose perfectly in the sky, life was good. I was happy. We’d had a fabulous friday in our amazing grown up place and Hugh was on his way over with some friends, to collect the shopping list. There was no way we’d have time to go shopping and get ready, so we were trusting three teenage lads to get the supplies. Normally this would make me nervous, but if there is one thing teenage lads knew, it’s alcohol.

Before we knew it our flat was filled, the balcony was buzzing and the sun was just setting in front of us. I’d spent my evening smoosing between people, laughing, seeing their jealous faces, envious of how well we’d done, yet proud of us.
The vodka did it’s job and loosened everyone and myself and Clara ensured everyone’s glasses were full. On my way back to the kitchen I’d realised the fridge was getting low. We’d unpacked most of the living area for the party, but a full week at work meant we hadn’t properly finished and things weren’t in their right places. Meaning I had the spare chiller on my room, with the rest of the cocktails we had made. I walked to my room and passing the bathroom when a figure walked out, I had recognised instantly, although I had no idea what he was doing in my flat. Butterflies appeared instantly.
“Oh hey” he looked at me and then to the floor, his Canadian accent thick and as beautiful as ever. I always loved that voice, that twang. My ex has the most beautiful voice, and although it wasn’t him, it was his younger brother, James. To be fair, he was the more attractive brother, he had obviously come with Hugh, and spent his evening hiding from me, from the look on his face, he was just as awkward and nervous as me. We hadn’t spoken since the break up.
“James, hey, what are you doing here?”
“Hugh, he asked me to come to a party, I, I wanted to see you”
I smiled, we’d always had a tight bond, I’d been in his life since he was 11. The truth is, I missed James and their younger sister. They were my family.
“Come on” and I pulled his arm, “you can help me with the rest of drink”
His arm twisted from around mine, freeing my grip and I turned and walked, my heart sank a little, he obviously didn’t want me touching him, but then he stepped towards me and took my hand, sending shockwaves through me. I didn’t want this to be awkward. And I certainly didn’t want any atmosphere to ruin our party. He dutifully followed me, hand in mine, assisting me whilst I dug out the bottles of vodka, Prosecco and then hunted for the Ping pong balls. Clara insisted on beer pong. Well vodka pong, we were champions at college and then kept our title through uni.
“Sorry, they must be here somewhere” I said. James didn’t answer. He was silent.
I turned to face him. He had opened one of the bottles I had passed him and was stood facing the window, his back to me. I walked over and placed my hand on his shoulder.
“Is everything okay?” If I’m honest I wasn’t in the mood to have a councilling session in my room on a Saturday night when there was a full room of people down the hall, music thumping through the walls, people laughing and being carefree, but James wasn’t acting his normal self, in fact, he never usually drank anything. He wrapped his arm behind me and pulled me to his side, took another swig of the tequila and remained silent. I rested my head on his shoulder. In the six months I hadn’t seen him, he had changed dramatically. Or maybe I just hadn’t noticed it before. He was taller, almost a foot taller than me, his grip was soft yet strong. With his one hand around me I knew I couldn’t move away even if I wanted to. Yet his hand was clammy, and i felt the beads of sweat along his shoulders, saw them glistening on his forehead. His eyes were wide and a little blood shot. I hadn’t noticed in the dark hallway but the city lights gave a soft glow to my room and I saw the creases in his face, they made him look older than he was.
“She doesn’t love me” he said quietly and took another gulp of the drink.
Half the bottle gone. He passed it to me and I took a sip. Tequila isnt my favourite drink.
“Who wouldn’t love you” I smiled. Truth is, I didn’t realise he was dating anyone. I’d missed this part of his life and it upset me a little. But it upset me more to see how he was affected by it.
I took another mouthful, and then another and passed it back to him.
“I just miss her”
I wanted to offer him words of wisdom, sisterly advice. I wanted to comfort him like I had before. I also wanted to tell him this girl obviously wasn’t worth it. What a dick she must be.
He’d taken two more gulps, leaving a quarter of the bottle left. My head was already blurry from the vodka let alone any tequila. He should have been puking on my bathroom floor, but he just stood, still and strong.
Passing me the bottle, I shook my head.
He turned and faced me, smiling, the same smile I remembered, yet his eyes were glazed and piercing.
“Oh come on. The girl who taught me how to drink saying no to tequila? Don’t be silly” smiling I brought the bottle to my mouth, taking a gulp. He held the bottle up, forcing me to drink more, another gulp, another, another, I could have thrown up there and then, but my dress was expensive and I couldn’t bear him to think I’d gone soft. The bottle emptied itself down my throat, burning down into my chest.
He laughed, the most beautiful laugh. “Good girl” he said.
That was weird. He’d never referred to me as a girl before. I know that sounds ridiculous, but as with all boys with older sisters, they refused to acknowledge any part that made their sisters “girls”
He’d said it endearingly, yet patronisingly too.
“Perlease” I laughed “I’ve been doing this for longer than you”
He smiled and swayed a little closer to me, before correcting his stand. He felt huge in front of me. It would have been intimidating if I didn’t know him so well.
“This girl James! she is stupid if she has hurt you! who would let you go ay? Seriously move on. Forget about her”
“I can’t” he said. So simply, and it crushed me. He sounded vulnerable.
” well then, you only have one choice, don’t you?” I told him
“Yeah and what’s that?”
“Don’t give her a choice. Prove to her how much you care for her, don’t take no for an answer!” I smiled.
“Don’t give her a choice ay?” He repeated. Yet not as light sounding as I had. Darker and slightly twisted. I couldn’t see his face anymore. The sun had completely set and my room had disappeared into darkness around us.
He abruptly turned and faced me. His hands suddenly behind me, one on the small of my back, one in my hair and he pulled my face to his and kissed me, like it was his last kiss. Passionately, strongly. And at first I forgot myself and I kissed him back.
My brain was screaming, this was wrong, but my heart raced and I couldn’t stop.
But I had to. I couldn’t do this. I pulled back but he just resisted and drew me back.
“James” I muttered “James, no” I pushed my hands against his chest. His muscles hard under his tee shirt. I would have been so impressed by this, if it wasn’t so wrong.
He stopped but didn’t drop his hands. I twisted out of his grip.
“James, come on. Let’s go back to the others. Can’t be drinking all the alcohol in here, the others will wonder where I’ve gone” i said nervously.
And walked away. I couldn’t believe what just happened. My mind was blurring. My head spun. Half from the alcohol and half from shock.
“Don’t” he said. Firmly, yet desperately. And he pulled at my dress and wrapped his arms around my waist, my back to him. His breath on my ear.
“Don’t go…I’m sorry… You know I just wanted to see you”
“And you can, but let’s go outside” his grip faltered for a second and I took another step. But he was quicker and he passed me, standing in front of the door. We heard a large crash from down the hall and then a huge cheer. The party continued without me.
“I need to see what that was James. Move. Please”
“I’m sorry” was all he replied.
“It’s okay Hun, it’s just the drink. That’s all. All forgotten. Come on. Let’s get you some water and we can sit outside in the fresh air” I needed to sober him up. He clearly wasn’t used to drinking, if it was drink that was the problem. He seemed out of sorts before he had opened the tequila. And it worried me.
“Come on James, come with me” I took his hand. To soften him. With my other hand I reached behind him, for the door handle.
He gripped my hand tighter and abruptly grabbed my other one, stopping me before I could open it.
“Haven’t you missed me at all?!” He shouted. Not his voice. Not his kind and gentle voice.
I opened my mouth, shocked. “Of course I have” I dropped my arms. How could he think otherwise?
“It’s just been awkward. I didn’t want to make things worse”
I took a step back and felt the bed behind me. Sitting down, hoping the spinning would stop, a tear escaped from my eye.
Even in the darkness he sensed this, and fell to his knees in front of me.
“Don’t cry…. Please don’t cry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I never want to make you cry. Please. I never would hurt you. I just want…” he mumbled, his face closing in on mine. He reached up and kissed me again. Softly this time. His hand came up to my face, his thumb wiped my tear and in my drunkenness, I fought away the screams inside that told me no, I didn’t resist.
His huge hands framed my face and held it softly. His lips caressed mine gently and he leant into me, his body leaning on my knees, parting them, drawing himself in closer.
“James” I said in between breaths. “We can’t” although I put up no resistance at all.
“We can” was all he said and he brought himself up and on top of me.
My head still spinning with the intensity and quickness of his movements. I pulled my hands up to his chest. Breaking the kiss and looked into his eyes.
“No.” I said, and I surprised myself how firm I sounded.
I wasn’t sure if I believed I didn’t want this. But I knew I couldn’t do it. Not only had he been my little brother for the last nine years but he was clearly upset, drunk and a mess. I couldn’t do this.
“Don’t” i said.
“Don’t” he repeated, more of counteracted me.
He leaned in again.
“No” I turned my face.
His knees either side of my waist, pinned me into position, his hands gripped mine and pulled them away from his chest and above my head.
“Don’t tell me no” he growled and using his weight, size and strength, he clasped my hands in one of his and stroked his other hand along the left side of my body, holding onto my hip.
Kissing my neck, my cheek, my lips, I couldn’t struggle against him. I wasn’t strong enough. I could shout. So I did. I can’t remember what words, but it didn’t help. The music outside was too loud and he pulled up his spare hand to my mouth. He whispered in my ears.
“Stop. I wouldn’t hurt you. Don’t. I’m sorry. I want you. Don’t be scared. You want this”
Mumbles in between his kisses. Still gentle, despite his grip and force.
Tears streamed from my eyes, and he stroked them Away with his lips.
His hand returned back to my hip, then down to my thigh, under the hem of my dress, softly up to underwear.
His lips returned to mine, yet I remained unresponsive.
Sensing this he stopped.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. I didn’t respond.
“Don’t you love me?” He asked. Hurt, upset.
I turned back to look at him. I don’t know how, or why. I looking into his eyes, I did feel genuine pain. Not because of what he was doing, but how he looked. Like I’d hurt him. I’d caused him pain.
“Yes, I do. But you’re hurting me” not physically, because he had only ever been gentle to me, like you do when you love someone that much.
“I wouldn’t hurt you. Ever.” He sat up. Still his legs either side of my hips.
I pulled myself up, still spinning. More from confusion. I had no idea what was going on in my head. I should be kicking and screaming. I should be running down the hallway. I should be beating him within an inch of his life.
Yet my hand was back on his and I wanting to help him. I wanted to hold him. This wasn’t James. He wasn’t like this. I thought back to my favourite memories of him.
We’d been on a family holiday on safari in Kenya. He checked my room for spiders before I went in, whilst his brother sat on his laptop, checking the football scores he had missed on the flight. James and I slept outside on the balcony, listening to wonderful noises, watching the stars. He wrapped a blanket around around me, in case I got cold.
He hugged me for hours when my auntie passed away. His brother was away on a business and couldn’t possible come home.
He wiped my tears away, like he always had. He wouldn’t hurt me.
And he hadn’t, not really. He’d only kissed me. Why was I so upset?
No, it’s the alcohol. He is still my ex’s brother. God this really is wrong.
I managed to push him away from me. Him defeated and upset. I walked into my bathroom. My eyes were a little red and my dress was out of place. Otherwise I looked exactly the same, like nothing had happened.
I left James on my bed and walked back out to the party. Straight over to Sally. Who was apparently the drunkest person to ever exist.
She giggled when she saw me.
“You need to try on of these” she said and passed me a cocktail. I downed it in one. Trying to numb the whirrling thoughts in my head.
“Wow, and another” she passed me something bubbly and pink. Again I swallowed it all.
“Jeez, go you!” She laughed “umm… James is here. Hugh brought him, apparently he insisted on seeing you.” She eyed me nervously.
I just looked back…. Blankly as possible “really?” I asked.
“Yeah, maybe you should find him, he is probably in the lounge”
I gave her a kiss on the cheek and walked back down the corridor to my room. The door was ajar, he had gone.
I never got a chance to speak to him again. A week after the party, Hugh told me over breakfast, James had gone back to Canada. He hadn’t told anyone, just booked his flight back home.
I silence I prayed he was okay, that he hadn’t left because of what happened. My friends still talk about “the best party we’d ever had” but I’ll always remember it as the last time I saw him. And my last words to him, was accusing him of hurting me.

The funny thing is…

We all have that someone we wish we could erase.
That guy who pulled us in and spat us out.
The one who fixed our broken hearts only to smash them further.
Well, this is to him.

When we first met, I didn’t think much of you. You were drunk, arrogant and not at all my type. In fact, if my memory serves me well, I was looking pretty damn fine and you were a mess, high on whatever you’d picked that night, staggering back home, looking really not so pretty at all.
You harassed me and my friend Rachel so much I thought she was going to pepper spray you. Obviously now, looking back, I wish she had.
You asked for my number, I said no. But as it seems you always seemed to get what you want, and it seemed to make very bad decisions, so I gave it to you.
I never expected to hear from you, but when I got your lame message the next day I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t anything to get excited over, but when you asked me on a date, I accepted. Call it curiosity if you like, that, and I was desperate to get out of my ex’s shadow.
I didn’t even give much thought to it, but when you knocked on my door I felt a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was nerves and I surprised myself on how I felt.
We talked for what seemed like hours, that arrogant side to you stripped bare. I felt like I could sense a common ground with you. You’d been travelling and wanted to travel more, to all the places i wanted to go. You had such a passion when you spoke about your job, you drew me in and boy did I believe it.
Then you went on a lads holiday to Thailand and I should have known then what you thought of me. (I found out later about those ‘sticky situations’ you so politely called it)
I guess I always sensed it, but then again they say love is blind.
You came home and I planned a surprise birthday trip to the city. To watch a show you’d been so desperate to see. (For my birthday you iced a cake. Iced it. You didn’t even make it)
A few days before we went to London I became sick, but I wouldn’t let it spoil your birthday. My throat burned, my chest felt tight, every muscle in my body fought against every step I took. Yet I still smiled. I began to get really good at that smile.
But overnight you woke me, you had an ear ache. I got up straight away and comforted you when I really should have told you to man the fuck up.
You moaned about how much it hurt, so I got up, got dressed, and walked about the streets of Central London at 3am, to find you pain relief, but I had selfishly used all mine, fighting off the glandular fever I had.
But you know what? I didn’t mind. Because I never wanted you to be in pain. When the person you love is in pain, no matter how much, you feel it too and you’ll do anything to help them.
When I eventually got back (to the £350 a night room) you’d fallen asleep.
Clearly the pain had gone, but you woke when I got back into bed and I fell asleep, exhausted, in your arms.

A year flew by quickly and we had been doing pretty well, or so I thought.
But a week or so before our amazing holiday to Mexico, I’d heard from a friend of a friend, you’d been seen on a night out, looking rather close to a girl they described as “big nose and greasy dark hair”
It had to be her didn’t it, you’d slept with everyone else.
I calmly came over to your place, you’d just got in the bath.
My heart was pounding in my chest, part of me wanted to drown you there and then.
The other part hung onto the doubts, praying it wasn’t true.
You wouldn’t do that to me.
Then, right on que, your fone lights up. Right beside me. And of course it was her. She sent you a sad face. A fucking sad face. That’s all she put. Like she had a reason to be upset.
How on earth I didn’t kill you there and then I’ll never know. But I pulled together any sense of dignity I had left and I walked away.
I never wanted to look at your lying, cheating face again. At that point I didn’t even know how far it had gone, except the flirting and then you had eventually invited her back to yours.
But you looked so guilty when I confronted you. You couldn’t even think of an excuse quick enough.
You just stood there stuttering.
At this point the only emotion I felt was anger. I’d never felt anything so strong.
The weirdest part is I was angry at myself. I let you in and I was humiliated.
I listened to your pleas and cried myself to sleep that night. My arms wrapped around my chest, holding the pieces together.
Then the morning came and I promised myself they were the only tears you were getting from me.
In the words of our faithful Kelly Clarkson, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

Now here I am. Successful, moving up higher than I ever dreamed I could.
I’m strong, and more importantly, with the poison removed from my life I’m happy and I’m healthy.
You still send me those pathetic messages, hoping for a reaction like you used to get. But the funny thing is, you’ll never get anything from me again.
Because you had everything and you gave it all away.
Good luck with finding a girl who will put up with you like I did. In the end you played your damn self and lost.
Que Beyonce, “I bet it sucks to be you right now”

Festival Frolicking

I’ve always thought the reason we hold on so tight to things, is because we fear something so great won’t happen twice.
We cherish the good times, the fond memories, reminders of how great the past was, not remembering to live in the present. It can’t be just as good you know?!
Since starting my job at a children’s hospital in London, I’ve decided to out a great effort into changing this way of thinking. I’m going to seize every opportunity, in life and love.
So when my friend jane tells me she wants to go to Glastonbury, I put aside my fears of greasy hair and dirty portaloos and book my ticket. I’ve done the whole festival thing before. In fact I used to love it. But recently I’ve become a bit too comfortable with the luxuries of life… Got water, mattresses, that sort of thing. But it’ll be fun. I know it will. Out of all my friends Jane is the most laid back, the most carefree. We first bonded over our love of Australia and Kings of Leon. Next thing I know we are packed in the car on our way to Glastonbury.
Upon arrival, I begin to look around. I’m surely ten years older than everyone else. I thought Glasto was a mixed event?! Young and old coming together? Obviously not.
I seem to be the only person without a can of cider in my hand. It’s the last day of my antibiotics, after being impaled with a wine glass two weeks ago, the bar staff lovingly pressed some ice against my foot with a dirty tea towel… Que infection, nine stitches and a week of the strongest antibiotics I could get my hands on.
However I continue to look around. I notice two guys, they look over the age of twenty five which has recently become my limit. Tall, very tall in fact, muscular…
I position myself to get a better view. Yes, just as I thought, both pretty gorgeous, although both very different. One has blonde hair and a baby face, instantly reminding me of an ex whose face I’d rather never see again. The other has light eyes and dark hair. And a pretty lovely smile…
My friend jane nudges me and laughs, clearly hadn’t been as discreet as I’d hoped.
I smile back at her and giggle, like an excited 6 year old girl with a new toy.
But when I giggle he looks over, a rather surprised look, and smiles at me, before walking through the gate.
Once we’ve dragged everything through the field we are calling home for the next six days, we are stuck for a spot, everywhere was already cramped.
Then we hear a voice.
“Hey! HEY!”
We look over and see them. The two lads from earlier.
“We’ve found a big enough spot if you want to join us?”
Do we ever?!
After a morning of introducing ourselves to our new neighbours, a few cans of beer and cider later (red bull for me) everyone appears slightly loose, relaxed. I’m loving this carefree existence. I’m also liking this tall, dark, handsome guy even more…
I’ve learnt he is originally from the same city as me, however now he is living in Aberdeen, his Scottish accent is actually a huge turn on, despite me making a promise to myself I’d never date a guy with an accent again.
It’s getting later and we decide to make our way down to one of the stages. A radio DJ is making an appearance, and whilst I’ve never heard of him, all the 17 year olds around us clearly have.
Surprisingly the crows grows so fast we would be lucky if Jane and I could even see the stage, a modest 5ft 5 and 5ft 7 are clearly not festival heights…
However luckily for unsourced new Scottish beauts are 6ft 3 and before I know it I’m being thirsted into the air.
I haven’t been on someone’s shoulders since I was three, and that was my dad.
Nowadays when my lady garden is that close to someone’s head, I prefer it if there a few less than 20,000 people around and I’m in a slightly more dignified position.
However with my legs wrapped over his shoulders I begin to notice his hands running up and down them, I, of course, am wearing the festival standard, demin shorts, far too short for a lady of my age, but hey, I’m being carefree!
Before we know it the DJ has been and gone and we’d become excited, laughing around the amusements and different weird and wonderful tents,before deciding to head back to our own.
Which is just as well because Jane had gone from carefree to intoxicated extremely quickly… And had to be put to bed immediately. Leaving us alone, his friend also passed out in another tent.
I felt his lips against my neck as his hands returned to running along my legs. My inner 17 year old girl was about to burst with excitement. People walking past us in the dark, a few feet from us and I did to are. I certainly wasn’t going to stop. Our clothes pulled off in a blur, I could feel hands like electrical pulses all over my body, through my hair down to my ankles.
Safe to say I had a Very good night and woke slightly hazy due to a Red Bull
Overdose, but ready to start the day. I crawled out of my tent and patted Jane’s just to see if she was alive. The other couple next to us were already cooking bacon and making tea, there was no sign of the Scottish lads being awake so I pulled up a chair next to them as they passed me a mug.
“Morning” she says. “Where’s your friend?”
I hit Janes tent again.
“Still passed out by the looks of things” I laugh
I probably should go in and check her vital signs, but this tea is the best thing I’ve drunk in two days.
“No” she smirks “the guy you were laying naked with last night out side our tent”
I stare at her in horros.
“Brilliant” I groan. They both erupt in laughter.
I have to laugh with them, my head begins to pound and my body aches worse than a hangover. Maybe I embraced the carefree approach a little too well…
Five days left. I wonder what else is in store.

What makes me, me.

When asked “what makes you, you?” I’m sure we all think of of different things. Whether they are positive or negative, are any of us really brave enough to say them out loud?
Well for once in my life, I am.

I’d say I’m funny, not in the same way my sister Kadie is. A born entertainer, from my earliest memories of her, I always see her making me laugh. She can walk into a room and her one liners will quickly fill everyone with an easy giggle, so naturally she doesn’t know she is doing it. No I’m not funny like her. But I never became jealous of my sister. In fact I’ve always been immensely proud of her, I learnt to be funny at her side. A different kind. I learnt sass and quick wit, and found as a double team we really make just about anyone laugh. And if you can put a smile on someone’s face, you must be doing something right.

I’m pretty. Not like my friend Natalie, whose long blonde hair, stunning blue eyes, gorgeously formed breasts and ballet dancers body, can draw attention the moment she is seen. I see the hungry stares from men, eager to catch her attention, soon followed by the insanely jealous women, who see her as a threat. No I’m not pretty like Natalie. But when I tell Nat, how beautiful she is, she becomes embarrassed and dismissive. It made me think, if someone this beautiful could believe they weren’t worthy of such praise, then maybe we all look at ourselves in a different way. So when I told myself I wasn’t pretty, maybe all along I was, I just couldn’t see it. So I started to look. My skin is clear and soft. My eyes are green and mysterious. I have womanly curves yet I also have imperfect edges. But they make me, me.

I’m free. Not free spirited like my buddy Lisa. She walks the most beautiful paths, no shoes on her feet, wind in her hair, smile on her face, wherever she likes. She’s travelled the world and still not finished. I’m not free like that. But I’ve learnt from her to look at the world a bit different. To smile and laugh whenever you can, because it makes the world a beautiful place. It lifts your spirits and it frees you from the worries of the “real world”.

Im proud. I’ve come along way and had the opportunities to experience some amazing things in life. But when I look at my friend Adele, my sister Adele, that’s when I become most proud. Intelligent, beautiful, funny and simply perfect, she hasn’t been given her life on a silver platter, not saying I have either. But she worked the hardest, to get to where she is today. And I’ve seen her with nothing but a smile on her face, even in her darkest days, she picked herself back up again. And that girls knows how to pack a punch too.

I’m confident. Something that took me quite a long time to achieve. And then when I became more confident, people changed it into arrogance and hostility. A confident woman, prepared to stand up for what she believes in, is still unfortunately seen as a threat by men and more disappointingly by other women.
However I’m confident to stand here today and say I have these qualities, matched by dozens of imperfections. When I finally became funny, no one wanted funny, they wanted pretty, when I finally believed I became beautiful, people saw that as arrogance.

For once I’m not at all interested in the bad things about me, I’m 26 years old. I come with good and bad. I’ll try my hardest to make sure the best of me is available everyday and that’s the best I can do. And everyone just wants the best.

Crem Boy

So it’s date night. Well actually it’s a Wednesday night. But hey! Maybe mid week is the new weekend? I’m hoping so, because last weekend was pretty fun. I’d met my dark handsome stranger. We’d become pretty well acquainted in a secluded doorway. And he’d left me wanting much, much more.
However he had also poisoned me with a shot of Sambuca. My kryptonite.
And unfortunately I was unable to follow through with my plan of seducing this man with my charm and wit.
So instead of waking up with his arms wrapped around me and a sense of triumph, I’d woken up with my face next to a friends weave and a sense of regret and loss of opportunity.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a lady who just jumps into bed with the first guy who buys me a drink, I’m a very passionate person but Oh no. I do normally maintain very high standards. And I’m also a firm believer in making a man work hard for it. What’s that famous saying? “No one is going to want to buy the ice cream truck if you’re giving out the Popsicles for free”
But I’d felt adventurous. Confident. And I felt a spark. So I thought why the hell not for once.

So now I’m on my way to the wine bar my friend manages, for this date I’m ever so slightly nervous for. It can’t be as bad as my last one after all.
And his hands… I remember them well.

Lesson #1

Being single has it’s perks, late night impromptu cocktails with fellow singletons in our favourite wine bar. Which then moves onto not to gracious shots of tequila in some dingy pub on the way to a club.
It’s Lucy’s birthday however, so this has been planned for a while. It’s her second birthday party. As the first one ended up in a trip to A and E and undignified amount of knicker flashing.
We are going out as ladies tonight, little black dresses, blow dried tresses, and we scrub up well.
We’re of course late meeting the others. We call them the others, because they are the couples. On time for everything. Wearing jeans and flat pumps, because comfort has taken over their lives.
But of course it’s better to be late than ugly.
That’s when I notice him. Tall, dark, nice smile. My type completely. And he has a friend too, one who has caught Noush’s eye. It was apparent he could touch his nose with his tongue… And if he could reach his nose… Well…That smile you give each other, the one where you both know exactly what each other mean, as if you’ve both had a full conversation telepathically, spreads across our faces.
We walk, no, strut to the bar, and plant ourselves right in between them. Because subtlety is not our strongest point. And lets face it. We are both out for one reason tonight. We both wanna know we still got it.
And apparently we do.
A few flirty conversations and a few more Proseccos, and we’d all decided To move on to the club. The couples of course had already left, Sunday morning shopping in Sainsburys was calling them.
I’m not sure how it had happened, but one second I was strolling, arm in arm with my new found friend, the next I had been pinned to a secluded doorway. His lips against my neck, deep breathes and gentle nibbles. His hand had pinned one of mine to the door, his other hand sliding slowly up my skirt.
In the excitement and the raw passion of the moment, neither of us had realised the doorway I was now pressing my bum against, was a pub doorway. And a fairly busy pub at that.

A-hem. I hear. And abruptly the hand that had been causing my fuzzy mind had quickly moved from my body. And a stocky, middle aged, balding doorman stood smirking in front of us.
“Coming in?” He smiles. Well would be rude not to?
The pub was humming with the buzz of Saturday night, I was still thinking about where his hand had just been…
“Two sambucas please”
“Erm.. Two?” I am well known for not handling sambucas too well. I blame my late teens and that god awful girls weekend to Prague.
“Sorry” he says “make that four” his grin melts me. His confidence draws me in.
He passes me two shot glasses, filled with the clear substance and in one smooth movement takes one glass to his lips and swallows.
“Your turn” he says.

Well… We all know what happens next. I’d like to tell you what happened after this…
I’d like to tell you my handsome stranger whisked me back to his place and we continued onto a night of hot sweaty passion and I woke up aching all over, limbs intertwined.
But I can’t. Because that would be a lie. Except from the aching limbs part. That happened.
Instead I woke with my face in a bowl. My eyes stuck shut together due to the false eyelashes I had applied. I unfortunately was not born with the lovely lashes that my friend Lucy was granted.
I tried to move, but something was pinning me to the floor. Please be my guy, please dear god be him.
Nope. It’s a clothing airer. Full of Noush’s freshly washed clothes. I had apparently used it as a quilt.

I did say Sambuca wasn’t my friend, in fact I had insisted.

Luckily my friends had rescued me before this guy had seen me. So I woke with a sore head, but also a message asking me out for a drink on Wednesday.
Just remind me not to have a Sambuca.

Who am I?

Single at 26. That’s what I am. Ten years ago I was convinced I had already found the love of my life. I was fifteen when I met him. He was a transfer student, gorgeous, tall, dark and handsome. His beautiful American accent literally sent my teenage hormones wild. I knew I wanted him. He was my first real boyfriend and my first sexual partner. Seven years together I never thought we’d be apart. It wasn’t always perfect, more on my behalf than his. We’d decided on a break when I was starting college, I was torn between the security he gave me, and the freedom I got when I wasn’t with him. I wanted us to explore the world together, be the best people we could be.
But when it became apparent we had different aspirations, I knew deep down our paths were dividing. I didn’t understand why he didn’t want to backpack and see the world. He couldn’t understand why I did. Now when I look back and think about it, I understand. He’d moved from place to place, country to country. What was so wrong with staying in one place?
Either way at the time I didn’t care. I knew what I wanted. And our relationship began to suffer because of it. Our sex life became dryer than the Kalahari desert. It went from wanting to rip each other’s clothes off to sleeping in the same bed and not even making contact. I preferred spending my weekends shopping and socialising with friends. He preferred to stay at home. If I could persuade him to venture out, it would be as far as the local cinema.
I couldn’t even blame him. He hadn’t changed. Not really anyway. His bitterness was a result of me not giving him what he wanted. His arrogance came as a form self preservation.
I needed an escape. I booked a one way flight to Australia where my friend Jane was living the life I always wanted. As soon as I landed I knew this is where I was supposed to be. The sun, the freedom, the perfectly formed blonde surfers who graced the streets, muscles on top of muscles and whiter than white smiles. It was hard to remember what I’d left back at home.
It was two months before I had properly heard from him. I’m pretty sure that was only because it was my birthday and he felt obliged.
Then the jealousy started. He had started to comment on a lot of the photos I was posting, full of beautiful guys, I happened to be living with. But instead of resenting it, I felt a sense of triumph. He had feelings after all! Because, let me tell you if they are jealous it means they still are prepared to fight for you.
He said he missed me, he couldn’t wait to see me, we could start our lives together again properly.
That was it. What I’d been wanting all along really. I knew he was the only one I wanted. I caught the first flight home. So nervous when I got to the airport. What would he be wearing? I couldn’t wait to see him, his smile. I’d got back those butterflies he’d given me when I first set my eyes on him.
Would it be all romantic? Would I break into a run when he saw me? Run straight into his arms and feel his arms wrapped tightly around me?
The doors opened, I could see hundreds of happy faces. Unfortunately, not the face I wanted to see. Then out of nowhere I see a smile that I recognise.
My Sister. Kiki had made the trip. It was her that had come to pick me up. Not the guy who insisted I come home because he missed me so much.
“Hi sis” she says. And embraces me so tightly. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my sister. I’m lucky enough to have a sister and a best friend in one, we both have an over the top obsession with the Kardashians and both turn into Beyonce reincarnated when we’ve had a few tequilas.
Tears flow down my face. I’ve missed her and I’m so happy she is here.
But deep down I’ve never felt so let down in my life. He didn’t come to claim me.
From that moment I knew what I mistake I had made. I’d given up an amazing job, left my friends behind in Australia, for what I thought was my knight in shining armour. Turns out I’d come home for nothing. Resentment was flowing through my veins. And I don’t hide my emotions well.
I no longer felt butterflies when I saw him. I felt betrayal. I was young, I wanted nothing more than to be loved. It was the one thing he had promised me when he gave me that ring to wear on my finger. That he’d love me forever. And he didn’t.
To say that break up left me feeling bitter is a slight understatement. But I did also gain a new sense of determination, a sense of independence. I’d been so hurt by the loss of his love, I felt I’d never need love again. My heart froze. With it my dreams of a big white wedding and a lifetime of happiness and bliss. Instead I focused on my career, my friends who turned into my soul mates really. It really is true what the Pussycat Dolls say. I don’t need a man to make me happy. I just need me.
And a few glasses of Prosecco.

Conversational Narcissism

We all have that friend. You know the only who talks over you at dinner, with a story that has absolutely no relevance with the conversation you had been in the middle of. The one who talks over you, constantly. The one who you call to tell good news to and twenty minutes later when you’ve put the fone down, you realise you didn’t actually get to mention your news at all, but you happen to know exactly what she ate for dinner and how bloody fabulous it was.
So why on earth do we call this person our friend?!
When I first met Kate it was a drunken love of wine that introduced us. She quickly became part of the group and it was the height of summer, so all things pub garden and evening cocktails had fuelled the friendship. But when another member of the wolf pack had noticed Kate had interrupted her a few times, completely cutting her off, she hadn’t been too impressed. I personally hadn’t noticed. But when we had all gathered for Jane’s birthday, in the local bar celebrating I saw it for the first time. Jane was in full swing of telling us all an amusing story when, from nowhere, Kate had stood directly in front of her and began a new conversation of her own, which had no relevance to Janes or any other story that had been told that night. But in any case she had left Jane talking to her back and as It had been such a smooth transition that the other girls just entered the conversation blissfully unaware. I wasn’t even sure Kate had realised she had done it. But she had.
After that point I began to notice it more and more. Whether we were out for dinner or just in Anoushka’s living room, Kate continued to interrupt us and even put us down, telling a new story to undermine ours.
It wasn’t nasty or even malicious. And that made it worse.
At first I began making a few jokes about it. “Oh sorry Kate, I didn’t realise the middle of my sentence had interrupted the beginning of yours”
But no such luck.
Everytime I watch Bridget Jones I associate Kate with Janey, the jellyfisher, whose sole purpose is to say things just to sting us all.
The problem is Kate is a really nice person, when she isn’t butting in.
I certainly wouldn’t want to loose her friendship over it.
I feel I have two choices.
The first, to outright say stop bloody interrupting me everytime I speak! Harsh I know, but I could blame it on the Prosecco. But I’d risk loosing her friendship, she’s a sensitive person our Kate.
Or we just all ignore it. Jane has suggested we all meet up and hour before Kate arrives, just to catch up properly.
Noush thinks we should just catch up and bloody well not invite her.
I think I’m going to have to tell her, that is of course, if I manage to get a word in to begin with.

The dreaded D word.

That’s right. Dating.
I’ve been single for over a year and to be quite honest it never bothered me. My friends were single and we formed a wolf pack. Silent promises that no man would break us. The only person I’d ever take home with me after a night out was my buddy Anoushka. Purely because she bought me a bag of chips and would be the only one brave enough to see me in the morning.
But then Noush gets a fella. A nice one.
And I realised he started appearing more often than I’d honestly prefer, not because I didn’t like him. But because I was jealous. He got to spend time with her. He was there when I called. Not only that, but she started taking him home rather than me.
So there I was. Alone. With my chips. And no Noush.
Maybe it was time. Maybe I should start meeting other people.
I turned to my fellow singletons at work. After many night shifts listening to them discuss their dates I knew they’d point me in the right direction. Maybe even arrange a night out where us lioness’s could could for the next prey…
However this was not the case.
I was quickly shown a number of websites, plenty of fish was the first. The idea of writing a paragraph about myself trying to sound attractive and ladylike, up for a laugh but also not giving it out for free made me extremely nervous.
What if they didn’t like what I had to say. Or what if they actually did like what I had to say?!
Everyone knows you have to exaggerate a few details, what if they are the details which someone chooses they like the most?!
Surely you should get to know someone the normal way? Over a drink or dinner. Do people not do this anymore?!
Then came Tinder. And if I though PoF was judgemental, that was nothing on tinder. People got to judge me on my face. And my face alone. What a pressure.
So I uploaded my mugshot for the world to swipe to the right for a chance of a chat.
And I waited….
Ping, first match. Ah phew! Oh it’s Charlie. I did like the look of him. I’m quite proud that he liked me too. Let’s see what he has to say….
“Did you go to Uni?”
That’s it. No hello or lovely face…
People really have become to the point.
“Why may I ask is that?”
Maybe I don’t look intelligent enough. I should have worn my glasses. Damn
“Because according to statistics, girls who go to uni are more likely to have anal sex”
Right then. That’s tinder off my list. And Charlie for that matter. And no I didn’t go to Uni if that’s what you’re wondering.

My fellow singletons at work however assured me this was a rare thing, they’d found loads of people they’d like the look of on tinder Sophie had even met her boyfriend that way. So during a slow night shift they persuaded me to try again.

Within a few minutes I had another match! Wahey! Still got it I thought.
Ben says “hey you’re beautiful” good start Ben. Bit of flattery gets you everywhere in my books.
After a week of chatting and a dash of flirting we arrange a date. He’s coming to pick me up. He wants to take me bowling. Yes bowling, at the local bowling alley where the rest of the 14 year old boys take their first date.
But hey. Can I afford to be picky? No. So I think why not? It’s an ice breaker.
Spending two hours getting ready, and before I know it he has arrived. Nice car. Not as good looking in the flesh, but let’s face it, nor am I. Thank you Instagram filters.
He looks disappointed. “I’m really sorry, but bowling is actually full tonight… Do you just fancy a drink”
Thank fuck for that. Because it’s never good to be the girl who flings a ball backwards on the first date.
“I know a little pub outside of town which is quite nice” he suggests. I like this. He has a back up plan.
Let’s go.

After a nervous five minute drive I’ve noticed I just basically given him my life story. Really quickly and high pitched. I really do need this drink. He seems pleasant enough though. Making noises of interest when prompted.
I could be quite good at this dating thing you know.

However, we’ve pulled up outside the pub. And he is right it’s a very nice pub. It’s also my ex’s local. What the bloody hell do I do now. He is bound to be in there. Fuck.

Quick look around the car park. Can’t see his truck or his bike… Please dear don’t be here!

Ben is chatting away, getting his life story out in the open, but I can’t concentrate.
The thing is, I didn’t exactly have a fantastic break up. I mean who does. But when the guys gets on his hands and knees at the local boot fair and declares his love for you, and you literally shout the words “please dear god, fuck off and never speak to me again” it really means it wasn’t a good break up.
Time to order, I don’t even think about it. JD and coke. I need to relax.
I can’t hear anything above Ben who is now in full swing telling me about his job etc.
But then the door opens and I just know. It’s him. Dead silence. I tense. And just smile weirdly at Ben. The figure in the door hasn’t moved either. But I can feel the glare piercing into the side of my face. Ben looks up at him. And then nervously at me. “Er do you know him? That guy, he is just staring at you”
“Yes, erm that’s my ex”

That’s when everything takes a turn for the worse. We drink in silence.
We leave in silence. I don’t even get a kiss goodbye.
I feel I should at least message him after and pretend I had a great time. But when I don’t even get a response I take that as a hint.
It’s not as if I intended him to be there. Although secretly smug he did see me on a date with a tall fireman.

Eh, single with a portion of chips doesn’t sound so bad after all.