Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

I’m not competitive (much), but I do like a challenge. And today I got challenged to join in with a project where you write a novel in a month. That’s 50’000 words. Crap. I’ve got myself into this now and I’ve got a sodding idea, so I’m going to have to follow it through. If anyone is insane enough to join me, the website fir this is

Write what you know say wise people, so a lot of this is from my own and blatantly stolen from my dearest friends experiences of having children (and consequently no money). Everyone seems to write about the first baby, so I’m going for the second. In diary form.

I’m calling it ‘Austerity Baby!’ (Look! Topical and everything!) and here’s the first draft of the first chapter.

Note: there will be illustrations. I think. Maybe.

Week 1 – Normality

I’m in the kitchen after work preparing a delight of cheese sandwiches cut into random shapes and mushed up banana. The Toddler announces her presence by running her plastic spoon up and down the baby gate like a prisoner trying to get their jailer to fill their coffee mug. The familiar monotonous word “muuuuuuuuuuummmm” is repeated over and over. And over. And over.

Deep breath, smile, turn around. “Come on then! Let’s get you dinner!”.

As I gaze at the terrifying toddler TV show in which Iggle Piggle gets mucky patches over Upsy Daisy, I start to chuckle. Then laugh. Then uncontrollably giggle. And it’s in this state that James discovers me when he crosses the threshold of our mildly decrepit flat. One hysterically giggling girlfriend with a slightly concerned looking 12 month old daughter in a high chair who is swishing a hexagon of cheese and bread into her hair. Poor man.

James and I met through a mutual friend and instantly hit it off. We shared a love of music and whiskey and beer… and wine. We were good at getting each other home safe, if only because we counterbalanced each other’s wobble. Within a matter of months we had moved into a shared flat above a takeaway (very useful) and started recklessly abusing our 20(ish) year old bodies with alcohol, junk food and an astonishing amount of sex. It was clear we were using up our ‘couple quota’ and probably borrowing from someone else’s. We were essentially credit shagging. It was clearly unfair to the general population (more specifically our flat mates) and so someone upstairs found a simple solution that would put at least one of us off for a while.

The Toddler was born just one year after our first night of indecency and frankly it was rather a shock to the system. We were rebellious no longer. Or rather we were still rebellious in our heads, but the actions were more based around sleepless nights and working out which end to stick the nappy on.* As it turn out, the business end is the least of your worries, but enough of babies, we have a Toddler to enjoy!

At 5 months, breast was begrudgingly swapped for bottles and I returned to work, leaving a contented little roll of fat with complete strangers for three days per week. But, this did mean that the rolls of fat could continue to grow rather than starve which frankly was a real prospect when rent and bills must be paid.

So here we were a year later, as working parents, living in a slightly decrepit, but now decorated in ‘tonal’ colours, flat above a takeaway. Cloth nappies now dried on a clothes horse in the hall, and our bedside was now littered with muslin squares and Calpol instead of beer cans and hastily discarded knickers. Any knickers now to be found out of the underwear drawer were large, and comfortable – so large in fact they could possibly house a small family if given the correct scaffolding. These came with promises of a ‘slimmer tummy’ or ‘magic tummy’. These knicker LIE ladies! Post Caesarian, short of pure steel reinforced encasment, there are no pants which will provide you with a pre-pregnancy tummy. However, hope remains, as do the massive knickers.

And in these massive knickers (and other work clothes), I remain racked with the giggles over the utter filth emitting from the kids TV show.

“Er… Are you ok?”, asks James. After much gasping for air I reply that I am and insist that he closes his eyes and JUST LISTEN to the current conversation between characters.


He starts to snigger. “You are filth!” He exclaims in mock embarrassment. “I can’t possibly marry you now!”. It was at this point that we realised it was high time for us to have some down time, and plans were made for the Toddler to be sat upon by my parents and us to hold a party.

An actual party. With grown ups! And alcohol! Yes indeed, now I am no longer a walking vending machine with tits the size of my head, I can contemplate drinking again. Admittedly, only when the situation arose where I did not need to be responsible for another human for at least 24 hours, but this opportunity had arisen, and I was not going to waste it with ‘moderation’!

And this is how this story came to be. Everything that follows can be traced back to Iggle Piggle and his mucky patches. It’s clearly his fault. Not mine. (Are you buying this yet, or should I keep going?).

* Dear reader! Just saying the end which is producing solids is no good! Both ends of a baby do this! And when breastfed, both ends produce remarkably similar projectile solids!


The (not a) Review of Catherine Bulling of @GypsyTreePhoto

This is my friend Catherine. Oh, and her husband. (There is a point to my post, I promise!)


This is nearly her whole family.


This is their latest addition (and you know what, I don’t reckon that she’ll be the youngest forever).


Frankly, the idea of five children scares me, but she does it annoyingly well and is also holding down a creatively demanding job too! She’s the owner of The GypsyTree Photography. And it’s here, that I’m going to shamelessly promote her work. This isn’t a review, I am hugely biased. She is a wonderful friend and she and her husband are Godparents to my tiny people. But I do love (and mildly envy) her work. But I cannot claim to be an objective observer, but you can.

Catherine is “an award winning newborn photographer based in Sussex, UK” and she’s not shabby when it comes to sympathetic portrait work either. I don’t often post promoting stuff, but after an unconnected friend of mine came back from a shoot with Catherine earlier today raving about her, I thought some extra word of mouth was in order. And I’m proud of my friend.

So here’s some stuff I’ve learnt about her since we’ve been friends along with some examples of her work.

1. We’ve decided our kids were destined for each other since birth.


2. She crotchets the most amazing hats. Then sticks them on babies (her prop cabinet is amazing).


3. Her ability to recreate the world as we saw it through child’s eyes is baffling.


4. There is no container that she won’t put a baby in (if it fits… And it’s safe!)
(I knitted those trousers!)


5. She’s brave enough to work with children AND animals. Some might argue that this is one and the same.


6. She puts questionable head gear on babies, but they never seem to mind…


7. Some of the smiles she captures are just unfathomable.


8. Her house is full of photography props, school photo prints, mounts and a husband who is set to work when he gets home!


9. She can make some of the most active kids stay still just long enough to capture their perfect little personalities forever.


10. I love her work. But I don’t need to convince you – it’s all here for you to make your own mind up!


You can visit her website and read her blog at (although I’m guessing you noticed that from the photos! Or you can view lots more of her work and catch up with her on Facebook