As a blogger, I share a lot about the things going on in my life, both the good and bad, but you don’t always get to hear the background stuff; the bits that most probably shaped my life and made me the person I am today. In response to a challenge from Renee at Mummy Tries, I thought I’d give it a go, so here you are….
I grew up in West Yorkshire, part of a large extended Catholic family (Irish somewhere down the line, I believe). They say it takes a community to raise a child and that was definitely the case where I lived. Our street was one big family and my childhood was all about playing out with the other kids and street parties, lots of street parties.
I danced my way through my teens ─ tap and modern. I was a keen choreographer and had a part time job teaching the younger children at my dance school. I also did karate until I was sixteen, but always used to be told off for pointing my toes in karate and not pointing my toes at the dance class. Oh and I played the saxophone and the guitar and I still own both of these instruments: my eldest has taken up the Sax and my other daughter, the guitar.
I spent my early teens obsessing about George Michael and all the brat pack actors like River Phoenix and Johnny Depp and I was a huge Madonna and Michael Jackson fan. My favourite decade was the nineties though; my coming-of-age years. I have many fond memories of nights out on the town with friends, dancing the night away to the most amazing tunes. It made being a teenager bearable and got me through years of study.
I was part of the generation who went to university because you could ─ it was free, the government gave us grants; they turned all the polytechnics into universities and shoved us through the clearing process regardless of our A-level grades. My friends and I have recently been discussing a possible conspiracy theory from that time because we all seemed to have been pushed down the science route, when none of us really wanted to do that. As a consequence I studied nutrition, and I don’t regret it, but I always wanted to be journalist and a writer and it’s only now that I’m getting to do what I love as a job through my work as a copywriter and of course via my blogs and other freelance writing.
My first job was as a civil servant for the Food Standards Agency, involved in policymaking and research for food allergies and intolerances. All these years later, I find myself back in the world of ‘free-from’ and ‘may contain’ because of my gluten and dairy intolerant son. Funny how the world works isn’t it?
My husband and I had many adventures together in our twenties, including safaris in Kenya and Lake Kariba, visiting Victoria Falls on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border, the Pyramids, Transylvania and repeated visits to our favourite country ─ Italy. I’ve also been to India (Goa) and Peru (Machu Picchu).
The downside to all this travel is I’ve had food poisoning more times than I care to remember and I blame this for the stomach problems I’ve had ever since, including IBS and nightshade intolerance. I spent the rest of my twenties ignoring the fact I had a health problem and it wasn’t until after I had my third child, and was completely exhausted that I finally realised I needed to take control of my health. The fact he also had health problems motivated me further and inspired my other blog, A ‘Free-From’ Life.
I lost my dad when I was 27 and I’ve written before about how my husband and I changed our wedding plans so he would be able to give me away. Not long after he died, I found I was pregnant with my first child and I firmly believe it was a case of one person leaving to make way for another to arrive. It may come as no surprise that we named our daughter, Hope.
As a child, my friend and I used to make our own magazine. I wrote stories, diaries and letters ‘til they were coming out if my ears, but as a young adult, I abandoned my writing ambitions, only coming back to it when I came out of the corporate world and became a mum. Call me clichéd, but I am one of those people who always said I would write a book one day. The only trouble was I didn’t know what type of book I wanted to write.
Once I came through my teenage years, I never really settled on a genre I loved and it wasn’t until my eldest daughter began to read, I realised the books that inspired me most were the ones I read as a child. From early chapter books, through to the ‘tween’ age, I was glued to a book and when I re-read many of my favourites to my daughter, with the hope of inspiring a love of reading in her too, I realised those were the type of books I wanted to write and for those very same reasons.
It’s only since I’ve turned 40 this year I am finally beginning to realise my dream and my first book is almost ready for publication. It’s a middle-grade story, aimed at 8-12 year olds and I’m very excited about the whole prospect of sharing my stories, whilst being a little terrified at the same time.
I’ve made friends and lost others (much to my regret). I’ve done things I’m proud of and other things I’d rather forget, but I’d like to think I’m in a good place right now. I have my husband, three children and our latest edition, Barnie the Boston Terrier, my extended family of in-laws, my nieces and a nephew. And we have a lovely home.
Perhaps I’m not as sociable as I once was and I drink more coffee than I do alcohol these days, but I’m happy and that’s what counts isn’t it?