I love the warmth and solidarity of November … the nights drawing in, the log fires, the celebration of all those that have given and continue to give their lives  for others.

Despite buying 4 or more (I always lose them or leave them on jackets) I remembered the Poppy etiquette that my Mum taught me many moons ago and always wear my poppy with pride.

When thinking of solidarity and loss, my heart goes out to all those affected by the recent Parisian incident, in fact all those across the world, touched by war, depravity, terrorism and poverty.  It’s easy to assume that our world is turning rotten and to worry for our children, but I refuse to be pessimistic. I am reminded almost every day of the strength and loveliness in the world; those constantly rallying for others, those random acts of kindness and gestures of support and friendship and I urge you to dwell on and encourage the positivity of those instead.


The Visitors Book


Quite apt for this time of year, with Halloween just a groan away, I’ve just read a lovely little book of short stories; The Visitor’s Book and Other Ghost Stories by Sophie Hannah.  A really readable modern take on ghostly tales… fun, quirky and impressionable short stories… take a peek if you dare .




My name is S-J and I LOVE ice cream!  My weakness is this one, amongst others.  When I nipped to the supermarket last weekend this old favourite just happened to catch my eye and I simply couldn’t resist.  I’d bobbed it into the freezer and forgotten about it, until last night.

They say a bit of what you fancy does you good, and there’s a reason I normally decant a couple of heaped spoons into a small bowl rather than just grab a spoon …. I really should have stopped before reaching halfway!  Still, it was much needed, I enjoyed every mouthful and there’s a time and a place for everything.  It’s back in the freezer for now.  I’ll try to resist it for at least a few days before I polish it off … honest!




Well, Fleur Smithwick isn’t making any (tongue in cheek) – that is the single most excellent, most infuriating and most cleverly composed book I’ve read in a very long time.  A psychological thriller of sorts which questions the why’s and wherefore’s of friendships both true and fictional.  An exceptional literary talent, Fleur has left me positively exhausted and questioning all there is to question about mind over matter. Read it … you won’t be disappointed.





Finally found my merry little way, with a little help from my friends, to The Alchemist in Leeds – and I wasn’t disappointed.  It stood up to the hype.  I’m so fussy (you don’t say!) so the somewhat attentive and obliging mixologist very kindly created the ‘SJ on legs’ just for me … a heady concoction of Absolut, Courvoissier, grapefruit juice, Angostura bitters, mint, crushed ice and dry ice – it certainly hit the spot and started the night off perfectly!


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So, moving on from a warm up cocktail at The Alchemist, I took my naughty pal, Andrea (who always leads me astray) & her ‘too cool for skool’ hubby Joolz out for her birthday and we experienced the gaming delights of the newly discovered (for us at least) Roxy Lanes … Such a great evening – game of bowling (we were all pretty terrible – but I blame the …), great cocktails, great food and attentive staff.  Big thanks to Manager, Katie – who was friendly, fun and efficient and introduced us to the unfamiliar and hugely competitive beer pong!  The beast inside me reared its ugly head and the girls well and truly thrashed the boys.  I wouldn’t be lying to say we stumbled out of the place several hours after we arrived!  Such a good evening….


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We ended our night at the Belgrave Music Hall … literally ‘Under The Moon of Love’ … where in the roof top gardens we had a night cap (or two) and Andrea and I were serenaded by that lovely bloke from Shawaddywaddy (who’d been performing at City Varieties)… talk about ‘Good Timing!’




Big thanks this month to Nurofen the magic medicine that has helped my little poppet back to health.  All the germs and the nasty weather accumulated in Scarlett’s head and chest and  resulted in a really rotten cold and ear infection.  With lots of TLC, regular children’s Nurofen and a few hard-pushed early nights the lurgy is almost out of her system.





Scarlett has made me super proud – raising almost £500   for The Little Princess Trust by donating her hair and being sponsored for the cut.Despite feeling poorly, she stood in front of the assembly at school last week and explained all about it.  Apparently she was ‘right in the middle of confident and scared’ (her words not mine and perfectly put). I know that speaking aloud to an audience won’t have come easy to her (she doesn’t have her brother’s showmanship) – so that makes me even prouder!

Massive THANK YOU to everyone who has supported my little girl through her change and for donating.




In the midst of the cocktails and party season, and in a desperate attempt to counteract the same, I was lucky to take delivery of a truckload of Vegesentials smoothies the other week and in the throws of the usual mania around here – it’s taken the pressure off my morning smoothie routine (I generally whizz one up for the troops from any raw ingredients in the fridge) whilst still ensuring our incredibly important 5 (or more)- a day.  They’re simply delicious and I love that the packaging tells you the benefits of each of the healthy ingredients.  Such a great idea and healthy’s never been so tasty!



Another ‘winter warmer’ I’m coming to rely on is the wonderous little turquoise granules that are Temple Spa’s Take It Easy.  A scoop or 4 of these cold-relieving, stress-relieving granules in a deep hot bath sort me right out.  At £22 for a 500g tub it’s worth it’s weight in gold and looks rather splendid on the bathroom shelf too – bonus!

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A quick shout out for Jemster and his fellow Rhino’s B-Boyz with their new teacher RawGina Roberts, as she whips them into shape for their next on-pitch performance.  So proud of the amazing progress they make week on week… they’re all so much fitter, stronger and the skilful tricks just keep on coming!  If you have a young dude who fancies getting fit, having fun and learning some impressive moves (head spin anyone?) then get them down to the all-boys breakdance session at Carnegie Cafe Bar (Leeds Rhino’s Stadium); Headingley House, 39 St. Michaels Lane, LS6 3BR (Leeds Rhino’s Stadium) 6pm til 7pm on a Tuesday evening – all new-comers  will be made very welcome.  At just £3.50 a session (or £18 for a block of 6)…  there’s nothing to lose but your inhibitions!


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Speaking of inhibitions, or the distinct lack of them, my talented little man visited his management company Ology Kids Casting in  Lathom last weekend to do his Supernova film and to update his voiceover showreel.

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Jem never fails to impress me with his confidence and talent, or his mere cheek for that matter!  We enjoyed a ‘together’ day, finishing the session with a lovely family lunch at the local Cricketer’s  in Ormskirk, which came highly recommended.


The food was presented beautifully and tasted as good as it looked and we enjoyed a heavy dose of laughter along with our feast!

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When Archie’s favourite tune came on; Ed Sheeran and Rudimental’s Bloodstream (he’s got great taste) he got seriously giddy – I’d even go so far as to saying he’s almost got his ‘mojo’ back, albeit in small doses!


A great place, and a great gas made moreso because the lavish lunch was unplanned and turned into something special.


Tranquility Day Spa


For someone who’s never really paid herself a great deal of attention (and more recently whose needs have been squished fiercely flat at the bottom of the pecking order) I’m fast becoming a convert!  MY day yesterday made me realise just how important ‘me time’ is!

Maura organised a wonderful ‘bespoke’ pamper package for my lovely girlfriend, Alex, and I at Tranquility Day Spa, Horsforth.  A much-needed de-stressing back, neck and shoulder aromatherapy massage with essential oils, a red and sparkly shellac manicure ( … it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas) and the most luxurious paraffin hand treatment (so lush we’ve requested an all over one next time!).


Whilst Alex had a mini facial, I also had my lashes and brows tamed and tinted (not only looking lovely – but relieving the stress of getting made up every day and looking a tad less ugly without my face on).  I feel truly pampered, primped and polished!  The ladies took such good care of us both and the glasses of fizz and fresh fruit platter were a really lovely and welcome touch.IMG_2038 (2)

For good measure, Wendy snook me into her very busy schedule and has done a wonderful job of trimming and re-styling my lengthy locks – after strict instructions from Scarlett NOT to have a bob or go too short (I wouldn’t dare steal her thunder).  My hair feels so much lighter, healthier and shinier – and I got massive hugs from Scarlett, she approves, even Jem says he ‘loves it’ and is jealous all over again (I refuse to let him have his head shaved!)!



BAR 166

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After such a lovely pamper we wanted to showcase our new ‘me’s’ so Alex and I went for a light bite, a couple of cocktails (I can see a theme here) and a good old gossip at Bar 166, Town Street, Horsforth.  The food was just as delicious and as well-presented as I remember (it’s been a while) and the cocktails too – even matching our manicures rather wonderfully!


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Thanks Wendy – as well as cuddles and girlie time this morning, my daughter and I are revelling in our new ‘do’s,’   I feel rather FABULOUS for the first time in such a long time.  What’s even better is due to my husband’s incessant snoring (not dissimilar to a herd of ruminating rhino) I haven’t slept a wink – so it looks equally as lovely as when I went to bed!!?*  I’m so glad my husband slept well … it means that at least one of us will be functional today! Obviously I should have taken up the invitation of joining Alex and Co at the gig in town last night after all!?*




In the very noticeable absence of my lovely Mum, and wanting to fill an obvious seasonal void for my Dad, I’ve made my own Christmas cakes this year.  First attempts were marzipanned and iced today and I think they look pretty good – but I just hope they’re edible.  I couldn’t find my Mum’s age-old and fail-safe recipe so, like with most making and baking, I totally winged it!  Only time and taste-testing will tell, so I’ve got my fingers firmly crossed….


 Less than 4 weeks and counting …. 

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