“Put Your Children into Nursery and Go Out to Work!” Says the Prime Minister #Equality #WorkingFamilies

All of this talk about the general election, and everything that I am seeing in the culture of UK politics at the moment, is giving me a lot to think about. I never really got involved with politics before I became a mother. In fact, I didn’t really think about a lot of important stuff, because it never seemed relevant. I was too busy working full time, and sleeping or spending time with my family at weekends. My job became all-consuming, and resulted in me developing stress and anxiety, and almost having a nervous breakdown. But I’m not talking about that today.

I am feeling increasingly agitated about the work ethic in our country. And I am only just beginning to realise the level of inequality there is in our society. When I was younger, I was led to believe that we should allow the ‘men in suits’ to run our country and tell us what to do. We should never question the elite authority, because we knew nothing about what they did. Well, we still don’t know much about what they do, but now I realise that the collective ‘they’ should be held to account. Yes, David Cameron, I am talking about you and your cronies!

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So, back to my issue. I am currently unable to earn a wage. I am attempting to work from home as a writer, but silly me, I chose a career that doesn’t pay, at least when you come from a working class background and have no connection to London. I chose to give up full time office work, and I took on a part-time retail job in order to spend some time developing my career as a freelance writer. I have plenty of experience. Now, I cannot find a job that will actually pay. You know, like real money? That stuff that apparently makes the world go round? Yes, that.

You see, I also made the mistake of falling in love and getting married. And that resulted in my getting pregnant and having two children. Yes, I know, silly me. How could I possibly think procreating was a good idea? Anyway, it happened, and we decided that my husband should be the breadwinner because he works in a highly skilled sector (environmental waste management), and he can earn a decent wage to support the family. If I were to apply for a job elsewhere, my options are limited to low level office work or shop floor retail. Minimum wage.

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But my problem is further exacerbated by several factors. First of all, I am actually reasonably well educated. I graduated with a 2.1 BA Hons Degree. I am a competent, literate, intelligent writer. But the jobs are not forthcoming. At least not those that I could physically attend. My husband and I could not afford to put our children into full-time childcare so that I can go out to work. We do not have any spare cash. And we could also not afford a second car, which would be another requirement based on our home town and its lack of available jobs within easy reach.

But there is one more factor. I actually do not want to put my children into fulltime day care. I want to spend time with them. Why can we not set up our working lives to incorporate families with young children? Surely, in the 21st century, we can be more flexible? I mean, we do have this fantastic thing called the internet, don’t we? Come on, politicians, get with the program. Let us set up the UK to be a global business player, using the best of modern technology and allowing our hidden talent to shine through. We are waiting. Will you answer the call?

*Signpost image courtesy of Working Mums; Working mother and daughter image via The Big Give

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Well, That was a Curious Turn of Events #Election2015

It is all over. The Great British public have spoken, and we are now fully at the mercy of a Conservative government. I did not vote for the Tories this time around, although I admit that when Mr Cameron first appeared on the scene 5 years ago, I was charmed and enthralled by his charisma. Now, I feel like he really doesn’t care about me, my family and my friends. He just blames us for stuff that we did not do. And he continually tells us that we have to pay. How can we pay, when we don’t earn enough money to live on in the first place? I only survive financially thanks to the hard work of my husband. Without him I literally have nothing. Not a penny. That is a frightening prospect.

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I admit that I have been turning the radio off and ignoring a lot of the post-election debate and analysis. I am a bit bored of the whole thing now, to be honest. I kind of knew the Conservatives were going to do it, deep down, but a part of me kept hoping for a revelation in the UK political system. Alas, not this time. Maybe in another 5 years… I am only thankful that I voted with my heart and not my head. I chose to support the Green Party, and I stand by that decision. They are confident that their work is being recognized, and I am confident that they will grow and develop over time.

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If there is one lesson I have learned during the past 5 years, it is that we must accept the passing of time. Not everything can be fixed, restructured, or changed overnight. Just because we live in a 24/7 culture, does not mean it automatically translates into the fundamental elements of life. We will see the change that we need to happen. We just have to accept that it will take a while longer, and then it will all fall into place…

*Maggie Simpson image courtesy of Telegraph article; Green Party image via website

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Who Should I Vote For? #Election2015

The countdown has begun. We are in the final hours before voting begins for another General Election in the UK, and apparently this is going to be the most exciting election yet, according to our national media. Personally I feel a bit aloof about the whole thing. I have never been encouraged to learn about politics. It was never discussed when I was at school or college, and I don’t even remember much political talk when I went to university, and I graduated 10 years ago, so it’s still fairly recent.

Do I fall into the category of the ‘disaffected youth’ that I hear so much about? I don’t think so. I am in my early thirties, married with young children. Ours is a very normal, white, English family. At least to the outside. Our national politicians need not bother themselves with the likes of us, because we do not matter. That is how I feel. Our constituency is lorded over by the absent George Osborne. I have seen poster boards stuck up in fields all over the place, and they actually make me feel quite angry when I see them. You see, I did vote for the Conservative party in 2010. I was charmed by David Cameron. He said everything I wanted to hear. And I thought he could make a positive difference in my life.

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In the last 5 years my husband has become more and more buried in his work, because we do not receive state benefits, he is the wage earner for our family, and we are still paying off debts that we accumulated since graduating from university. We have not been out of debt since we started at university, and I’m not talking about student loans. I mean the personal debt that resulted from having huge student overdrafts and credit cards that we used for everyday expenses while working full time in the years since graduating, including fuel costs for travelling, car repairs, and dental care. Then we got a 100% mortgage just before the banks collapsed, and now we are stuck in a crumbling house that we can’t afford to repair, and we cannot afford to sell and move on either.

So who will help us with this? I want to work from home, and make a proper career out of my writing. I am a very talented writer, and I do not want to see that wasted while I take a minimum wage office job or retail job that doesn’t give me any satisfaction. No. I did that already. It was not worth it. I actually want to spend time with my children while they are young. Wow! That is a shocker! I mean, so far both Labour and the Conservatives tell me that they will help me to put my children into full time daycare, so that they can pack me off to ‘a job.’ Do I not work already? Do I not already do everything that a childminder or nursery teacher would do? Evidently not. I don’t really work while I am caring for my children, cleaning the house, supporting my family and still finding time to fit some freelance writing in here and there. Oh no. I sit on my backside listening to the radio, and wonder why the hell we allow such overbearing, upper class white men to govern our lives for us, while my children run riot around me.

So, who will I vote for? Who should I vote for?

*Voting ribbons image courtesy of Simply Business

Posted in Business, Domestic, Random Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Poldark with Fangs!

I am so excited! And it took just one new review for my debut novel, Love Hurts (A Redcliffe Novel), to set me off. We writers are a sensitive breed. We thrive on compliments, much like the rest of the world, I suppose, but for me this has been the boost I needed after more ups and downs in the world of writing and marketing.

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My latest 5 star review comes from a reader who took my novel on holiday. And now she wants more. Hooray! She called the story, “Poldark with Fangs,” which I think is absolutely brilliant, and why didn’t I think of that? I mean, I watched Poldark because of Aidan Turner, because I first discovered him as the vampire John Mitchell in Being Human that was shown on BBC3, and I fell head over heels in lust for the boy. In fact, I even pictured him as a candidate for Detective Jack Mason in an upcoming television series or film franchise…

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Hey, we thrive on dreams and possibilities! Anyway, I just wanted to share my excitement, and my dreams, and I hope that if you haven’t picked up the Redcliffe novels yet, then it will encourage you to do so. Put it this way: if you love Aidan Turner, if you loved him in Poldark, if you love sexy, smoldering alpha males with strong female characters in a picturesque Cornwall location, you will not be disappointed. Thank you!

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My April #AtoZChallenge Update

Hey folks. It has been a busy month! Typical that I would choose this time to commit to the #AtoZChallenge, when I have had the Easter holidays, full time child care, various personal distractions, and the burning desire to write more and more and more…

#AtoZChallenge 2015

#AtoZChallenge 2015

Anyway, if you haven’t been keeping up with my blog challenge over on my author blog, I urge you to pop over there now and take a look. The posts are all about supernatural themes in the Redcliffe novels, from character traits, to scenic importance, to everything magical and mysterious. You won’t be disappointed!

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Pinterest

How many of you waste many hours browsing Pinterest, pinning photos and pictures of things that you like the look of, ideas you could use at home, recipes, fashion inspiration, holiday suggestions and the like? *Holds up my hand.* Yes, I am a Pinterest addict. It becomes quite a problem at times, and I have had to reign it in a little. But it is like all the other social media networks. Once you start, you simply cannot stop. Especially when they send you emails with suggestions of boards you might like to look at, and pins you may not have seen yet. I can never quite bring myself to cancel the email subscription…

I realised recently just what a lie Pinterest actually is. I have been looking for ideas to help me improve the storage situation in my home. We live in a reasonably sized two-bed terraced house. We are rapidly outgrowing it, but we are not in a position to be able to move to a larger house, or to extend and renovate our current one, which it desperately needs. You see, our house is old. It was built in 1896, and I think it was a former railway worker’s cottage. We have two double bedrooms, but one is filled with a single bed and a cot, and both still have the old chimney breast in place, which affects the space we have for furniture. So, something like this pin, for example, could never really work in my house:

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And then there is the downstairs. We have a living/dining room that resembles more of a playroom and general rubbish heap at the moment. There are toys everywhere, and as much as I try and put them upstairs in the girls’ bedroom, they keep finding their way back down again. We seem to be overrun by shoes that will not stay in the cupboard I have allocated, and our only space for the pushchair is in a corner of our living room, since we have no proper shed or garage that we could use, and we have no front garden or porch. It makes no sense for me to fold down the pushchair because we use it every day, and it is a cumbersome item to wrestle with. And we still have the highchair in use, which also takes up half of the room. Sigh.

Finally, there is my kitchen. It is tiny, because back in the old days, they didn’t have appliances, plastic tableware, an assortment of cooking implements, and packets, bottles and tins of food to store. Now my kitchen is stuffed full, and try as I might, I simply cannot get rid of any more stuff. I could make use of a food mixer, but I have nowhere to store it, so for now I have to use a whisk when we do baking. I would love a coffee machine, but again, there is no space. I received a George Foreman grill for Christmas a while back, and I have to move it around the kitchen, and sometimes out to the dining room table, just to clear enough space to prepare food or do what is required. I saw this idea for a laundry space on Pinterest recently, and although it looks beautiful and clean and efficient, it is a lie!

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I don’t even have room for a laundry zone in my house. We have a washing machine squashed into the kitchen, a washing line in the back garden that extends out into our shared alleyway, and when the weather is bad, my clothes fill up a folding airer in our bedroom. But you know what? I finally realise that it doesn’t matter. Pinterest simply gives us ideas. It gives us something to aspire to. I admit, for a while I was feeling quite depressed that I couldn’t recreate these beautiful, clean, fresh house ideas. But then I remembered, I have young children. My house will not be clean and tidy for at least another two years yet. But it is clean enough for us to live in. We have fun. We love each other. We are healthy. We are happy. So I will reserve Pinterest as a suggestion for the future, when I can afford a larger house and keep it in just the way I would like. The possibilities are endless…

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The Beauty of North Wales

During the Easter holidays I was fortunate to have a short break away with friends. We found a caravan site in North Wales that was family friendly, and we took our children to the seaside. The weather miraculously improved, and we spent a glorious few days outside, exploring the coast around Llandudno. Here are a few of my favourite photos…

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