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A new beginning…

31 Dec


Here is a song I really like at the moment. It’s in German, and its title and chorus can be translated as “believe me, this end will be a beginning, we will start again”. So here’s to hoping the end of 2012 will be the beginning of a great year.

Happy New Year!


So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun…

24 Dec
Holiday, Summer, Mediterranean, Sea

The most blue water I’ve ever seen

This third year as a single mum has been the most busy, and the most successful at work for me so far. My daughter has turned into a proper big girl: life with a 3-year-old is so much easier than with a baby or toddler.

This year my daughter has learned

to dress herself

to put her own shoes on

to recognise her own name

to recognise letters and name them according to what they represent in her letter puzzle

to come to my bed when she wakes up in the middle of the night

to go to the toilet on her own and wash her hands

to cut up food

to use scissors, a hole-punch and sellotape

what the post office is for and how exciting it is to send and receive letters

how to complain loudly about the bus being late and then choose her favourite seat when it arrives

several nursery rhymes and Christmas carols

going to ballet school


My year has brought the following accomplishments:

a tiny semblance of a social life

getting onto people’s radars at uni to be considered for jobs and feeling part of the ‘big people’

my first semester teaching literature to undergraduates

being praised by my supervisor for the feedback I gave my students for their essays

an internship at a small-but-influential literary organisation linked to my university (a particular highlight was attending an event and being told “this is x, have you met?” when x was someone who has written and been mentioned in academic texts I have read, and also an MBE and all-round impressive person)

suggesting a book review to a major journal on the spur of the moment, and having it accepted for publication

finishing a chapter of my thesis

presenting my research at a small conference in London

securing funding to attend as well as presenting my research at a major international conference in a Mediterranean country in the middle of the summer, mingling and networking for 3 days in a 5-star hotel, exploring the island and coping fine with the heat


Next year will bring:

hearing back about my abstract submissions for 3 conferences (2 UK, 1 international), 1 competition and 1 publication

submitting a proper article to a proper peer-reviewed-and-everything journal

my 2nd semester teaching literature to undergraduates

running a conference with 3 other students

hopefully the completion of 2 further chapters of my thesis

saying goodbye to our lovely nursery and its community

SCHOOL! and thus the official end of my daughter’s baby years, going to uni together, doing spontaneous fun things on weekdays, knowing she’s only a 5-minute walk away when I’m working, waiting at the uni bus stop with all the students, etc etc…


It’s been a good year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been majorly hard at times. I still have the feeling that my life has gone down completely the wrong path and there is nothing I can do to change it and direct it towards what I actually want. If you imagine the events that led to my becoming a single mum as an explosion (which is how I still see it), basically I’m still feeling dazed with tinnitus ringing in my ears. But at the same time, I have felt a new level of freedom through finally getting some results from my research, going out occasionally, and generally taking part in life. I feel slightly less ‘needed’ by my daughter. Of course she still needs me and I usually enjoy looking after her, but it’s all so much less intense now that she can do most things on her own, goes to sleep relatively easily, and because she is generally hugely intelligent and lovely (shameless bragging alert). I’m crossing my fingers that at the end of 2013 I’ll be able to report a similar list of achievements, and with my sanity still somewhat intact.


Merry Christmas, if you celebrate, and if you don’t, have a great winter break!

Seaside picture

13 Sep

My daughter loves going to the beach (who doesn’t), so when she collected a bucket load of seashells the other week I tried to think of a way we could turn them into some kind of memory, rather than letting them start off in a pretty box on the shelf (her ‘nature corner’) from which they would follow the fate of last year’s conkers, acorns, leaves and seashells and migrate all over the house.

This is what I came up with after digging in my memories for things I enjoyed as a child.


We bought some plaster from the craft section of a big Range shop (non-UK readers: it’s a huge shop which sells everything from cheapo sweets and curtain poles to posh dinnerware and art supplies). Mix it with water according to the instructions, pour it into a pretty box, and voilĂ .


A seaside picture to remember our all-too-short summer.

If in doubt, go to the park

28 Jul


Birthday Traditions

5 May


It was my birthday yesterday, and a lovely day it was too. There was surprise yummy breakfast arranged by my daughter’s dad, thoughtful presents, posh chocolate , nice cake, I was taken out for afternoon pudding and coffee, and then we had pizza for dinner.

When I was growing up we had a couple of lovely season-specific traditions. My sister’s birthday is the day before mine, and our dad’s birthday is the day after mine, so we always had three great days. This is the time when pansies are blooming in northern Europe, and we always had many different colours in our garden. Every birthday morning before breakfast my mum would pick a few and laid them in a half circle above the birthday person’s plate at mealtimes. Between meals they were put in a vase.

Another tradition we had was that there would always be chocolate ladybirds and may bugs on the birthday table. Since I moved to the UK, my mum has been sending me ladybirds in my birthday parcel, and one year she even pressed some pansies in advance and sent them to me glued onto a card.

Another great tradition we had was the birthday ring , something I really want to continue with my daughter. I ordered one before her birthday this year, but unfortunately it was lost by Royal Mail, which was very sad.

I think birthday traditions are a great way of making children feel valued and tying the family together.

Glad we took advantage of the sunshine…

1 May

… because it’s raining again today!


Easy spring gardening

1 Apr