What I Would Tell My 15 Year-Old Self (who was crying in the toilets of her new school)

Last night something happened that made me want to be able to tell my 15 year old self a few things…

Back in September 1997, I started “lycee”, I was the only one from my senior school, who went to this school so I knew nobody. At the time I was shy and felt so lonely on the first day, when everyone seemed to know somebody that I went into the toilets to cry, I will never forget it. Well Adele of September 1997, I wish you had known the following because it would have cheered you up for sure. This is also a message to anybody, who is really shy or doesn’t have much confidence.

I will leave what happened last night to the end, the first thing you need to know is by choosing the better school but the school where you knew nobody you changed your life by taking the hard route. This is because you will do so well in your Baccalaureat that you will go to a great university in London and leave rural France behind and your life will change for ever, you can’t imagine the people you will meet or the places you will go. Also you might not have any friends on the first day but you will make friends for life that you still see today. You’ll watch rugby together go on holiday together, go through many “firsts” together. Here are some pics of the good old late 90s…

 

Even after you leave France and go to university, you will go on holiday with some of them:

 

Your shyness will disappear bit by bit over the years and your confidence will build, you will still 20 years later have moments of absolute doubt and this bloody impostor syndrome will rear its head from time. But you need to know that the people you meet at university, the job you get in The City and the people you meet after that will change your life completely. And it’s all because you chose a different path in 1997 and then an even harder one in 2000 when you went to university in London.

I wish I could tell you that the following will happen:

  • You will actually start enjoying and become good at public speaking. You will get up at a wedding in Sweden, 6 months pregnant with no preparation and give a speech in front of everybody. You will chair a meeting of finance people in both the Four Seasons hotels in Paris and Geneva and get them to talk about data (not something you are aware of in 1997 but it will become a big part of your life). Sadly but very bravely you will give a great speech at Dad’s funeral. When in 2000 you get your life-changing Baccalaureat results, you will be interviewed (well you will actually go up to the journalist and ask to be interviewed) by French national television.
  • You will turn up alone at a pub in February 2013 to meet 20 traders and brokers for drinks before the England-France match at Twickenham and talk with all them without any issues despite not being like them, finally  the one person you know will arrive later. You then watch the game and end up hours later at a private members bar in London, meet a famous actor (you don’t recognize him but he turns out to be “Mister Grey”) and give him all sorts of life advice. YOU give an actor advice, the girl, who was too shy to call a swimming pool to ask them their opening hours.
  • You will end up with people from very different backgrounds to yours, many times at dinners where everybody else was born rich but you will fit in because after years and years of mixing with different people you get more confident and learn that money really doesn’t necessarily mean people are better than you (far from it).
  • You will meet Jeremy Corbyn and ask him for a selfie (same with Eva Longoria), you will speak to Monica Lewinsky, you will sit next to the US basketball team’s wives at the Olympics, you will tell a Bollywood star you have never heard of her etc. You just are not scared of speaking to people anymore.

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The list goes on, you will end up in ridiculously amazing places and the main lesson you will learn as far as being shy and speaking to strangers is: “what’s the worst that can happen?”. Not much it turns out, a few people will be rude but in 99% of cases, it will be fine. I want to tell you it will all be fine, you will do so much better than you ever thought, you won’t cry in a toilet again from loneliness (for other reasons yes, clearly it’s not all plain sailing) and on September 29th 2019, you will be in a fancy restaurant in London and will go up to Olivier Giroud (Arsenal and now Chelsea and also France player) and tell him you are big fan whilst he is eating with his friends. You will hesitate and think to yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?”, the worst thing would be not to talk to him because you probably won’t meet him again so you go over and have a chat et voila, don’t worry Adele of 1997, you made the right decision.

 

 

 

Dad, Here’s What’s Been Happening In 2018

Hi Dad,

I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on 2018 as it’s very nearly over!

Nobody has killed Trump yet

Brexit is the biggest shambles in UK history, nobody knows what the fxxx is going on

Liverpool are top of the Premier League

France won the World Cup (England did surprisingly well, we all got very excited and started singing “Football’s coming home” multiple times a day, we even won an important game on penalties!!!!)

Bitcoin went down the toilet (not sure it was a “thing” before you died but as you read The Times every day, you probably had heard of it)

Everyone also got very excited about using the space bar on iPhones as a cursor, who knew?!

Lana and I saw Beyoncé and Jay-Z and they were AMAZING

I got divorced on July 4th, Independence Day!

Arabella turned 4 a few weeks ago and you would have so much fun with her, she’s absolutely crazy, some weird mix of all of us, she can draw like mum and Sandie, is a drama queen like Lana and she loves attention like you (and me). You would be so proud of her, she really is the best girl in the world (obviously drives me absolutely round the bend).

Lana lived with us for a few months, which was really nice and has now moved back to France to be with the Love of her life, you need to know she is really happy, doing very well and is now my rock (I know it’s hard to believe but true!). Dad, she turned things around, you’d be proud of her too.

We spent Easter at Sophie’s with the boys, which was super nice and Louise, Tallulah and Ellie are coming for Christmas.

You would love “A star is born”.

Very very sadly both Solly and Richie (last year) lost one of their sons.

On a happier note Billy had a baby and Carrie got married!

You are the one, who gave me my love of Christmas, you made such an effort, often with limited means. Your old smelly work socks as stockings, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and brandy butter – some of your traditions that I will carry on for ever.

We’re all OK Dad, we miss you terribly, especially at this time of year but there is a little bit of you in all of us. The world has gone mad that’s for sure and I hope you get to watch the show.

Merry Christmas Dad, I’m sure many glasses will be raised for you next week.

I love you

Xxx

One Year Older…

I turned 36 a month ago and was reminded today that Sex and The City is 20 years old…time is flying! I am going to start with saying that I have really been finding it quite tough recently. Indeed the life of a single working mum is bloody hard and I am one of lucky ones as I have a job and support. Also it was the anniversary of my dad dying, which didn’t help. Still I am feeling better, maybe it was because today was sunny or because I ate loads of M&Ms or because a few things reminded me of how lucky I am and am going to try and keep dragging my mood and confidence upwards over the next few weeks (slowly does it).

I have never been great at self care and have a tendency to not only keep my emotions in but also to “catastrophize” ( ; ) TM ) and then I closed a car door on my thumb, got really bad PMT, somehow convinced myself I was rubbish at my job (I am not), felt fat, wasn’t sleeping properly, got post holiday blues, indeed who wouldn’t feel sad at leaving this:

And ended up in some kind of downward spiral. A good and wise friend of mine asked me what I was doing about improving things and basically concluded that I needed a “win”. He was right so I spent a ton of money on Amazon buying all sorts of books, my mum arrived for a week, I looked at my performance at work and realized I am not rubbish, got some encouraging words from an old friend, spent Saturday evening at The Ned, which I love, slept more, bought some bargain shoes at TkMaxx, watched TED talks, discovered Love Island, cried and cried again and I am very happy to report that things are looking up! There were always going to be some tough moments during a divorce and following losing a parent whilst bringing up a feisty child to say the least:

So yep, I do have my vulnerable moments, moments where I actually wondered if I wasn’t depressed but took time to analyse the situation and make adjustments such as trying to sleep more and accept that I get really bad PMT since I gave birth. Losing a night’s sleep because I was in A&E for my thumb really didn’t help and was one of the catalysts for this not so great period.

Anyway, it’s time for Love Island, which is basically self care. Bisous everybody (bright dresses and smiles are a good thing!):

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2017 When You Were Up You Were UP But When You Were Down, You Were Seriously DOWN!

This is my first blog post of 2018 and I just want to mention the bad bits of 2017 first so then I can MOVE ON.
This time last year I christened 2017 the Year of Fun and in many ways it was but it was also the year of heartache. My dad died, I have 3 colleagues, who also lost a parent, 2 of my dad’s best friends lost a son and I started divorce proceedings. So there you go, 2017 was definitely a rollercoaster of a year, it’s not ideal to lose a parent and a marriage at the same time to say the least… Strangely seeing my dad very sick gave me the courage to say enough was enough and finish my marriage. Indeed when you see someone’s life slipping away, it gives you that kick up the arse to move yours in another happier, healthier and better direction. My dad would approve and would be proud I’m sure. My dad would also be very proud of the changes my sister has made, I won’t elaborate but the way she is turning her life around is one of the highs of 2017.
Last year, I made 17 goals ( 17 Goals For 2017 ) and here’s a recap of what I achieved and didn’t!
Listen to more live music (lots of different genres) anybody want to be my concert buddy?! FAIL: I did see Adele, which was great and Bananarama but not much else. Must try harder this year!

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Have a girls night out at least once a month MIXED: I haven’t kept track of this but I do feel like I’ve seen girlfriends at least once a month. This is something that is important to me so I think I might host a girls’ dinner once a month at least and plan ahead so then I know this will happen!

Go back to Ibiza DOUBLE SUCCESS: I went back twice! White sangria on a beach on a Sunday afternoon, staying in the same hotel as Eva Longoria, Lychee martinis at Nobu and sunsets at Experimental beach – there isn’t much else to say!

Sort my hair out without becoming too mumsy FAIL: I haven’t changed my hair, it’s still the same mid-length kind of brown…

Go clubbing in Berlin with my friend M FAIL!

Be more stylish – Not sure I can be the judge of that!

Do something really out of my comfort zone – not sure what yet! SUCCESS-Spending time with people that are SO different to you and going to places you really don’t normally go to and going to Ibiza twice – enough said
Regain confidence, I lost some in 2016, need to get it back! SUCCESS: a picture speaks a thousand words

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Taken on New Year’s Eve 2017

Keep the blog going and make it better and get more out of it- MIXED It’s still going but that’s about it, except for some free (but very nice by the way!) Polish bread and cakes…

Reduce meat and dairy consumption by a third (have a veggie hello fresh box one week a month) SUCCESS!

Go to reformer pilates at least 4 times a month FAIL

Get a subscription to Vanity Fair and the Economist SEMI-FAIL: I now have an Economist subscription, don’t always read the whole thing…

Speak to Arabella in French 95% of the time FAIL: I need to decide to speak to her in French or not, it’s just not 100% natural but I know she will thank me later…

Feel more goosebumps SUCCESS: listening to Adele live, admiring the beauty of Santorini, watching A at her first ballet class

Cry more tears of joy – Well…let’s just say that there have been tears in 2017 and mostly not of joy but I have definitely been happy despite everything

Have more “this is amazing” moments – SUCCESS: despite the double D situation well I definitely have had those moments I was hoping for. These were the highs:
The weather being perfect the day of my dad’s funeral, I mean unseasonable warm and not a cloud in the sky. Admiring the view from a hot tub in Santorini, sledding down a mountain at midnight in Switzerland in absolute silence, cycling round Formentera, taking selfies with Eva Longoria, brunch at The Ned on a Sunday ( I know I am slightly obsessed!), yellow tail sashimi at Nobu by the sea in Ibiza, watching the most amazing sunset on the first night of my holiday in Mauritius with my mum and daughter and being proud that I could take us there. Spending the day at a country hotel with very old girlfriends, watching Arsenal at the emirates in the best seats, seeing so many of the people I love at my birthday drinks, seeing friends become parents and so many of the funny things A comes out with. Getting drunk on Sangria on a Sunday afternoon in Ibiza and having to walk for an hour through fields because there were no cabs whilst laughing your head off, watching A dance in our hotel in Mauritius with the traditional dancers, an area at Reading festival being named after my dad

Spend New Years Even 2017 thinking back on what an amazing year 2017 was, ideally on a beach or a ski slope. MIXED – I didn’t make it to a beach or a ski slope but I was happy on New Year’s Eve, happy 2017 was over but also much more at peace emotionally than I was on the 31st of December 2016, which really was a low low. 2017 was as amazing as it could be given the circumstances

Obviously I have no idea what is going to happen in 2018 but here is what I hope for:
• To learn how to relax more, every time I go to reflexology I get told that I seem unable to switch off
• For all the pregnancies around me to go well
• To stop feeling the sense of failure I have at being a single mum
• For A to be happy despite the change in her circumstances
• For more highs and less lows
• To kick arse at work
• To be there for all the people that were there for me this year
• To keep meeting new lovely people
• To dance more
• For anybody I know considering a big change to find the courage to do it

And finally I want to thank all my friends and family for every call, every text, every email, every thought and every minute they spent with me last year. For being there for me when things were really tough. It took the worst of circumstances to remind me but I can tell you that I am very lucky and have many amazing people around me. I hope to see them all more this year. You know who you are, you are my family.

On that note, I am closing the door on 2017 with my head held high and my heart open.

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Girl, Where Do You Think You’re Going?

Now that is something I’m never going to try and figure out again. The other day I was re-reading the post I wrote at the beginning of this year with my goals for 2017 Here and realised quite a few had been reached against all odds! And the odds are the 2 D words (so you know not just any odd hurdle…), no need to spell them out.

I might not know where I’m going (seriously after this year, I have no idea!) but I’ve been to some amazing places this year and as the sun slowly starts to set on 2017, I can confirm the following (this is probably going to sound like an empty list of platitudes and cliches but here goes…) :

  • Resilience is a force to be reckoned with
  • The worst of times can be linked to the best of times in mysterious ways. For example the weather on the day of my dad’s funeral was absolutely amazing, perfect, unseasonably warm and sunny. 2017 was destined to be the worse year ever but I have survived and actually had some amazing moments, there is always light and hope.
  • Music is more powerful than I ever thought, listening to Lemonade by Beyoncé has got me through some dark times and seeing Adele live was pretty special
  • Even though sunsets represent the end of the day, I have a bit of “a thing” for them and see them in a very positive light, not just because they are beautiful (3 of my favourite ones from this year are below, I am very grateful I got to see such amazing ones this year…) but also because, as with 2017, I have learnt that sometimes the end is actually the beginning

This is a bit of a random post, I will definitely write one at the end of the year to go over how many of those goals I reached!

As for 2018, come to mama…

PS: yes there are a few Lady Gaga “Joanne” references in this post…

17 Goals For 2017

Happy New Year everybody! First things first – I am declaring 2017 the Year of Fun because 2016 just was  not fun enough to my liking. Let’s not forget we only get one life…

Let’s do a quick recap of why 2016 wasn’t my happiest year:

20% politics, terrorism and war – basically the year the world lost the plot

5% loss of great artists

75% unbloggable personal crap

However there were some highs that I blogged about:

Going to Ibiza , it was so nice and so much fun!

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I was miraculously thin during 2016, one good thing that I hope lasts!

Finding the perfect work dress

Spending 10 days in the sun with my mum

My best friend also had a second baby, one of my great friends got married, another is pregnant, all my girlfriends seem to be doing well, which is great but 2016 was lacking in fabulous, amazing moments. There were some lovely moments but could do better basically! I wanted to end 2016 on a high so yesterday, cheeks and I went for lunch at  The Hoxton, one of my favourite places in London:

I wore my AMAZING new shoes from Air and Grace, which make me happy

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Anyway 2016 is over! So here are my 17 goals/resolutions/hopes for 2017:

17 Things I’m going to aim to do/achieve in 2017 (it’s a very varied list!)

  1. Listen to more live music (lots of different genres) anybody want to be my concert buddy?!
  2. Have a girls night out at least once a month
  3. Go back to Ibiza
  4. Sort my hair out without becoming too mumsy
  5. Go clubbing in Berlin with my friend M
  6. Be more stylish
  7. Do something really out of my comfort zone – not sure what yet!
  8. Regain confidence, I lost some in 2016, need to get it back!
  9. Keep the blog going and make it better and get more out of it
  10. Reduce meat and dairy consumption by a third (have a veggie hello fresh box one week a month)
  11. Go to reformer pilates at least 4 times a month
  12. Get a subscription to Vanity Fair and the Economist
  13. Speak to Arabella in French 95% of the time
  14. Feel more goosebumps
  15. Cry more tears of joy
  16. Have more “this is amazing” moments
  17. Spend New Years Even 2017 thinking back on what an amazing year 2017 was, ideally on a beach or a ski slopeAnd here are some pictures to remember the good times of 2016:

    And here is one to set the tone of 2017:

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A Quick Note From The Four Seasons in Hampshire

Hello everyone!

A and I are staying at the Four Seasons in Hampshire this weekend and I just wanted to write a quick blog post about how life can change.

I came here the first time in May 2014 to celebrate mine and 2 of my best girlfriend’s birthdays. I announced I was pregnant that weekend. Next week my best friend is giving birth to her second child and this weekend I’m having a mother/daughter weekend away back here in this amazing hotel.

Neither of us had any idea what becoming a mum would be like that’s for sure. There is so much to write about on the topic but this evening as A ate spaghetti bolognese (risky business in a posh hotel I know), I sat next to her having a margarita because a day travelling and then discovering a hotel with a toddler is tiring and can be stressful. I simply had no idea when I was pregnant what it means to be “tired”, I also didn’t know how much I pleasure the following could bring:

– falling asleep next to your toddler on a great big bed

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-eating a massive lunch outside at the end of September with your toddler, who is on her best behaviour and saying “hello” to everyone

-coming up with the amazing plan to put the cot in the (big!) bathroom so you can eat room service and drink camomile tea in front of X Factor without worrying about waking her up!

A genius end to a lovely but long day!