When I was a kid, we had boxes not #plasticbags…


I don’t get the upset about the loss a bag. A wispy, fly away plastic piece of tracing paper. In this world of trauma, of a heart breaking refuge crisis, of poverty and war and downright injustice, it’s odd how we are up in arms over bags of shopping that hold our loo roll and mince.

This week in England large shops and supermarket chains have started charging customers 5p for large carrier bags, hauling them in line with other parts of the UK that have had charges for several years. And boy, oh boy is there an uproar. But,  why? When I was a kid, there was a minimum supply of plastic bags. Sure, back in the early 80s there was minimum everything – good TV,  phones that didn’t dial right round,  pizzas that weren’t sold in towers of tens – but hey, we had arms and legs and we were good at carrying boxes – yes, children, old fruit boxes – of food up the hill because if you carried a bustle of plastic bags four miles home, then you’d have no skin left on your palms by the time you got there.

Mercifully, a fair good few on Twitter have reacted with humour:

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Screenshot 2015-10-05 15.01.48




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But then there are the moaners….

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It’s mad as cheese. It’s just a bag, so get used to change people of England, just like we had to all the time growing up. Recycle, use a bag for life – France have been doing that for years. You can’t even buy a plastic bag over there, and god forbid if you make the catastrophic mistake of asking the woman at the till for one. They are VERY good at deathly stares.

Sadly, though, rather like the format of the XFactor, some things don’t change, no matter how many years we have under out belt.  In this case, we’re talking about our blessed national newspapers. Yep, if they were to be believed, you’d think the humble plastic bag was a  terrorist attack waiting to happen.  It’s nuts.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with this – actual front pages of today’s Daily Mail and Daily Mirror… Quick! There’s a plastic bag. Run. For. Your. Lives…

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What do you think? Post your thoughts below…

Ooo, new blog schedule announcement…

Photo of a DiaryAfter a lot of requests, I’m announcing the reinstatement of my Diary of a Hopeful Author blog posts.

I’ve been asked a whole heap, see, about what it’s like to be an author. For three years I documented what it was like, that roller coaster journey to trying to get published – the highs, the lows, the aching embarrassments – all of it. No picnic, that’s for sure.

A lot of you have got in touch and asked me if its different now, being an author. And for that reason – and because, if I’m honest, I miss that blog connection, that getting it all out there to help each other – I’m reintroducing my diary of  hopeful author section.

Its going to be (hopefully…) posted every Wednesday as before, in diary form about what I’m up to that week writing wise on the roller coaster of publication. I’ll aim to get some help sewn in there for you, tips on getting published and diary entries of an honest account of what it’s like to be an author these days. Let me know if it’s handy.

Also, I’m reintroducing Media Monday and Friday Fiction. Monday will see me writing my new Midlife Crisis column, where Friday will take up, yep, you’ve guessed it,  fiction. I’ll include my own writing and prose, plus comments on newly published books, old masterpieces, libraries – you name it.

So there you go. It’s less ‘out with the old in the with new’, and more ‘in with the old just dusted down and spruced up a bit’. A blog makeover. A new set of  clothes…Okay, I’ll stop.

I do have a whizzy author website now (there’s hidden quiz – good luck finding it…) dedicated to my books. You can find it here.

It’s great to be back like this with you all in, if your pardon the pun, a new chapter for the blog – just hoping I can stick to the schedule – forgive me it all wobbles from time to time.

Have a great week, blog buddies :-)

Nikki x

Sound good? Or is there something else you’d like me to write about in my experience of getting published & being an author? Let me know – all comments welcome below :-)

Are we all too immature to be president?


Welcome to Midlife Crisis, a new magazine-style column of a very real account of being over forty and sliding into a midlife mud pool.

Donald Trump has been told that he needs to be ‘more mature’ to be USA President. Yep,  amidst a long running feud with Fox News, Trump was  asked what he thought about criticisms that not only did he need to be  more, ‘kind and mature,’ but that Trump did not, in fact, behave in a presidential manner.

Now, here’s the thing: I can’t be doing with Donald Trump. He’s rude, sexist, doesn’t seem to apparently care what its like to struggle along the bread line of life. But, nevertheless, the immature thing got me thinking. You see, who, if any of us is mature enough to become something like President of the United States, or any country, for that matter? I wake up every day and am often amazed I’m a grown up – and I am 41 (I think…). And it’s not just me. Tonnes of friends I know who have hit our ‘middle aged years’ act like kids, in fact, we mess about so much that we get a right shocker when we look in the mirror and see, not a fresh-faced image staring back at us, but instead one marked by growing wrinkles, dark eye bags and Mr Magica style stick up grey hairs (and don’t get me started on the chin whisker…)

In a recent study into the differences in maturity between genders, it was revealed that both men and women agree men remain ‘immature’ well into their late 30s and early 40s. Now while, yes, I think we can all nod our heads sagely at this, isn’t it also true that we are all immature in our way? Most people I know, if you ask them, say they don’t feel their age and are waiting to grow up. We’ve just

Donald Trump: yes, this man wants to be USA president. Really.
Donald Trump: yes, this man wants to be USA president. Really.

moved house and it feels so grown up, the largeness of the place, the tree-lined garden, the ‘needs a lot of work doing to it’ plot it presides on. And yet I still can’t wait to meet up with friends and stay up till late singing to our dodgy karaoke machine. Ok, sure, come the next (two) days, we suffer more – headaches, aching limbs, slow, pulsing burning behind the eyes, but hey, we’re cool, right? Right..?

With Donald Trump,  his whole unsuitability to become President of the USA (God forbid. Please no, America, NO) is less to do with his apparent immaturity and more to do with him being, quite frankly, a total idiot. Basically, the man’s not a very kind or thoughtful person.

As for the rest of us, I don’t know – maybe a dash of middle-aged immaturity is just what the country, nay the world, needs. Because when we think young, we feel young – and who knows where that energy may take us? Just perhaps, first, we’ll let it lead us to the nearest sofa where our slippers are. We do, after all, as we age, quite like our small home comforts…

What do you think? Post your thoughts below…

Hoverboarding – the new mid-life crisis solution?


Welcome to Midlife Crisis, a new magazine-style column of a very real account of being over forty and sliding into a midlife mud pool.

Hoverboards. They’re a thing, right, grooving along the high ways, Marty in Back to the Future style. It’s like all my dreams come true – until I try one. It is a blooming nightmare. No one, see tells you when you get older how downright hard it is to, well,move, basically. Hoverboarding, see is like surfing, and yes, I seem to suck at that. Me and my daughter went for a surfing lesson in the Gower last year and we both got on the board and guess who fell off

Hoverboarding - it's a thing
Hoverboarding – it’s a thing. Anyone? Nope.

first and, basically, every time she got on the board (when I did, you know, finally stand up on it, that is…)? And don’t get me started on the wetsuit. Let’s just say when you’ve had two kids, wetsuits aren’t high on your list of ideal fashion items.

Getting older see, is, like bright pink lipstick, a shocker. We creak, we ache, we try to do things that someone twenty years younger can and, yes, while sometimes we do make it, it takes us longer to get there and way longer to recover.

But should that stop us? Should we wave the white flag to our ageing years and give up? Not likely. In a recent poll of 2,000 middle agers, it was revealed a third felt the stereotypical image of a midlife crisis was completely outdated. Indeed, a quarter felt the term was just a cliché, mind you, more than half (56 per cent) of men confessed they are likely to undergo a ‘lifestyle overhaul’ when hitting their mid-forties.

As for me and the mid-life thing, nah – I’m not going down without a fight. I’m only in my early forties – I’ve got some considerable living it up time left and I intend to use it.  I swim, ski, run, complete in triathlons, all be it, well, (a lot) slower. So yeah, middle-age, maybe I’ll give this hoverboard thing I shot – I loved Marty McFly. And, hey, maybe I’ll get to love A&E just as much…

What do you think? Post your thoughts below…

When will newspapers stop reducing #Womeninsport to what they wear on a night out?


I was sifting through the Sunday Times sport section this week being, frankly, highly critical. This is an easy stance to take when it comes to newspapers and sport – there is barely any coverage at all of women in sport on their pages, with females accounting for, on average, anywhere from 0% to 5% of content.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, in The Sunday Times, after the usual pages of sport by men, men, men, there was showcased a specific section on women. Okay, I thought, taken aback. I’d rather women in sport weren’t segregated to a separate area, integrated as female sport truly should be into male domains so the join is seamless, but hey, at least it was something, so I read on.

The paper was celebrating the Sports Woman of the Year Awards and one of the articles was about world taekwondo champion, Bianca Walkden. It talked about her achievements, her successes, a big picture of her in her sport kit adorning the bulk of the page. But then there was another photo of her, a shot of her smiling in a black party dress. Huh, I thought, they don’t do those type of shots with the men’s sport articles, but, ever the optimist, I gave the paper the benefit of the doubt until I got to the byline underneath the main shot. It read, and I quote:

Bianca Walkden - World Taekwondo Champion
Bianca Walkden – World Taekwondo Champion

Wonder Woman: Bianca Walkdean is not to be messed with when it comes to taekwondo, at which she is champion, but she is just as happy to look the part for a night out, inset.”

I almost dropped the paper, I swear. What? I mean, what? I had to read this three times before I could believe it was real and not a seedy line in a red top newspaper or some lads mag. Just as happy to look the part on a night out? What is this? Hey, Sunday Times! The 1950s called an they want their era back. Here we have all these amazing sports women who have achieved so much, and, instead of sticking to celebrating this, the Sunday Times choose to reduce Bianca Walkden’s success to how she’s willing to get dolled up. You never, ever see this with men in sport, so why with women?

Here’s the bottom line: women play sport and it has nothing, NOTHING to do with our looks. What we wear on a night out should have no bearing at all to the coverage these amazing, accomplished sports women receive. So, sports editors, when writing about women in sport, ask yourselves, before you publish a piece: Would we treat the men like this? If the answer’s no, then don’t do it. It’s a question the Sunday Times Sports section should have asked itself. It’s a question all media outlets should ask themselves. And maybe then will desperately needed progress finally be made.

Got an opinion? Post your comment below.

#Piggate has forced Cameron to show his true colours


I’m sitting, right now, in a cafe in Stroud and there’s one thing everyone’s talking about: Pig Gate. Everyone’s having a right old laugh. ‘Have you seen this?” one weary old chap says, holding aloft a newspaper. There’s a huge grin on his face. ‘This is the Cameron thing I was telling you about.”

Okay, so Stroud is a bit leftie, well, a LOT, leftie, but here’s the thing: Cameron is showing his true colours. In the week that has brought us revelations from Lord Ashcroft about his former mate’s past (alleged ‘situations’  with pigs, fox-hunting to name but two ‘events’)

UK Prime MInister David Cameron
UK Prime MInister David Cameron 

it has become apparent – like we needed it pointing out – that David Cameron’s facade is an utter lie. Man of the people? Well, it depends what people we are talking about here, and that’s always been the point. Sure, him and Osborne try to depict themselves as ‘one of us’ but no amount of public pasty eating or meeting refugees on the back foot or smiling with babies is going to convince us folk at the coal face that this Tory government has the foggiest about what it’s like to live life where you have to watch what you spend or, heaven forbid, have consideration – true consideration – for others.

Ironic that all this has come to light right after the down to earth Corbyn became Labour leader last week in what was a true breath of fresh air for UK political life. Look, I’m not saying that those of money and traditional privilege don’t or can’t fathom what life is like for others – there are truly amazing people out there from all walks of life. Yet, David Cameron, it seems, has done little to truly empathise with those from different socio economic groups. Sure, he’s been elected again, but on what grounds? It’s just a matter of time before his facade entire washes out, and the old, life-weary bloke at the table in a Stroud cafe starts smirking again to himself  before dropping off some provisions to the local Foodbank.

Got an opinion? Post your comment below.

Parents – don’t let your kids have their phones in their rooms at night!

sbSome things are not rocket science. How to tie shoe laces, for example – easy when you know how, obvious, in fact.  So why, oh diddly why in a recent report, have we discovered that pupils are just too tired to work at school because they have been up half the night on social media?

A study of more than 800 school children in Wales from the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research Data (WISERD) found that one in five between the ages of 12 and 15 wake up on school nights to check social media. And it gets worse. 58% of the 12-13 year olds surveyed said they were too tired for school the next day because they had been checking their devices in the night.

Now, look, I have kids, two girls of 11 and 13 and, naturally, they have phones, and yes, they use them to keep in touch with friends. But – and this is the cruncher – a) they are not allowed yet on social media and crucially, CRUCIALLY, they are not, repeat NOT allowed any devices in their rooms overnight. End of. Because, see,  give a kid a phone, and they’ll look at it. Heck, you give an adult their phone and they’re on it every two sneaky

3 out of 5 children have used a social network by the age of 10, in a survey of 8-10 year olds
3 out of 5 children have used a social network by the age of 10, in a survey of 8-10 year olds

seconds – I am, you are, we all are. That’s why we have to have rules. No phones in the room at night for our children means they won’t look at them – it really is that easy.

So parents, listen up  – you are in charge, you have the veto card here – play it. No phones in the room at night. You know, like a comfy pair of shoes for that long walk home, it makes sense. This ain’t rocket science. It’s just simple, essential parenting.

Got an opinion? Post your comment below.

Why Corbyn needs no spin doctors

sbIntroducing Soundbite – a quick column to-go on the daily news and issues.


The thing about Jeremy Corbyn is that he’s not a media man. If he were Pepsi he’d be Pepsi lite. Nope, scratch that he’d be an organic, pressed elderflower juice with no added sugars. And, see, that’s what I like about Corbyn, that’s what we all seem to like, those on the red side of the political zone – the fact that this man thinks the meaning of ‘spin doctor’ is someone who cures ailments by twizzing you around until you feel sick.

Jeremy Corbyn – new UK Labour Party leader. A man who needs no media.

So why this morning are the politicos calling for Corbyn to ‘get a media team around him.’ Why? That, like wearing a fleece with heels,  would be a catastrophic error, because it is the sheer fact that he has no media spin team, that Corbyn says what he thinks, is a conviction politician, a man of his word, that he won the Labour leadership in the first place. Tony Benn once said there are weather cocks and sign posts for politicians – Jeremy Corbyn is a solid sign post.

Look, if  you’re one of the doubters, if you don’t believe me, if you think Corbyn is having no effect on the masses at all, then listen to this. I was walking through my home town of Stroud yesterday and overheard a group of 17-year-old lads discussing just why they like Corbyn. They said he was ‘a breath of fresh air’ and that he was worth listening to. Now how often do your hear a bunch of young lads discussing politics on the street? Quite.

Corbyn is no spin doctor. He’s just human, a man of his word, a true political sign post. After all the expense scandals and lip service and downright lies of the past, his fresh approach is  just what we need. He’s a normal bloke – and that’s why we damn well like him.

Got an opinion? Post your comment below.


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