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A lesson in marathons

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Last Sunday, as I was looking on in awe and horror (in equal measure) at the London Marathon, my mind started to race. Is there a bigger message in this no-mean-feat other than just sweat and blisters?

As many as 40,000 people pounded the pavements of the capital to run, walk or hobble the 26.2 miles. Ranging from elite (Mo) athletes to the average fit-loving person to some pretty comical run runners, the entrants all seemed to have a point to make.

Aside from the crucial fundraising, it seems that a personal best time is the main driver. A challenge, a goal and (hopefully) an achievement drive the best of us on a daily basis. And this must be the main attraction. But does it justify the sheer pain that so many of those runners clearly experienced en route?

From what I can understand from questioning those with now aching muscles, all those signals sent from the body to the head scream: ‘PLEASE STOP’ and ‘THIS HURTS’ and ‘MY LEGS ARE KILLING ME’. But those on this running race mission hardly stop, absolutely overruling any body weaknesses. The gig certainly sounds tough.

The biggest tonic of all is the crowd. My sister-in-law, who ran the race (in admirable time), told me that the cheering of her name while showing admiration for her drive gave her the power she needed to finish the race.

And so my point this week isn’t really about running a race but more about how we introduce our children to idea of realistic challenges in their lives – therefore giving them the possibility of that glorious feeling of achievement and recognition. With our encouragement and some sheer determination, they should be made to feel that they can finish the course. Whatever that course is. And without even caring about winning.

You can read more musings from Emma at


Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 14 April 2014
When most people eat chocolate Easter bunnies they eat the ears first.

I can’t recall where or when I read this. But I can tell you I like to observe how children devour an odd shaped item of food, and what parts are leftover because rarely do they seem to consume an entire bunny…my turn to “help out”.

Does starting with the ears imply a cautious individual? Is biting off the tail indicative of a leader? Or poking a hole in the belly suggest an artistic future? The psychology would be an interesting read. However, I say enjoy and savour.

Easter offers a Christian occasion to reflect on life and meaning. Whether it is of importance for this reason or simply time for family, sharing and making memories, enjoy and savour.

You can bake hot cross buns, decorate eggs, organise an egg hunt, play at being bunnies in the park, read together. Indulge in all that is playful and fun about holidays with your children… and they don’t need to know if mum has nibbled on a discarded bunny foot.

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A day of contrasts.

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Thursday, 10 April 2014
There is a tendency to think of life in the country as monolithic. The country living magazines tend to focus brutally on baking and gardening and crafty things, as if nothing else went on outside of the cities. There is oddly little about animal husbandry, except for the occasional chicken feature, which is curious, since so much of country life revolves around livestock. Only this morning I stared into the implacable face of a very splendid highland cow.

Life in the country is very different to life in the city, there is no doubt about it. There is much less emphasis on buying expensive coffee and much more emphasis on the weather. I check the weather forecast five times a day. For me it’s a question of which boots to wear and which rug to put on the horse and how much hay we need; for the farmer up the road, it’s a matter of his very livelihood. But it’s not quite as simple as it seems. In our small village, for instance, you can get a double espresso out of a real Gaggia machine. This never ceases to amaze me.

Tania Kindersley

I was thinking about this today, because there were some interesting contrasts. I did stump down to the red mare in my very muddy boots, and I did go to the feed store and stock up on Calm and Condition. (They really should make this for humans, as well as for equines.) I did, in true countrywoman style, yell at the dog, not because I was cross with him, but because he was hunting for the last of the pheasants, two fields away. The raised voice was necessary on account of the distance. On the other hand, within ten minutes of each other, I heard two sentences which had no rural stereotype. The first came from a small gentleman of four years old, my great-nephew by marriage. The daffodils have finally come out and he is in ecstasies over them. ‘Oh,’ he cried, as if he were in a florist in Mayfair rather than in a wide Scottish field, ‘masses and masses of lovely flowers.’ The second was from a war veteran, just up the road. I was walking past and I caught a snatch of conversation. ‘I felt as if I were back in Iraq,’ he was saying. I looked up at the blue hills and thought how strange that phrase sounded, hanging in the bright air.
Tania Kindersley

Then I drove out to look at the blue hills. I do this quite a lot at the moment, because they are so glorious in the changing season. The colours are growing vivid and the last of the snow is finally leaving the high peaks. I stared at the beauty with my usual feeling of slight surprise. It never ceases to amaze me that it is all there, on my doorstep, freely available to my eager eyes. I watched the gulls fling themselves across the landscape and the sheep gather at the base of the hills and some tremendous ducks comport themselves on a makeshift pond, left over from the wet weather.

Tania Kindersley

After that rather Wordsworthian moment, I went into the shop to pick up supplies. In the magazine rack, the face of Kim Kardashian stared out of me, from front cover after front cover. I don’t really know who Kim Kardashian is, but the mags love her. I sense that she would not be quite as excited as I am by a highland cow.

On the radio, on the way home, people were talking about Maria Miller and the machinations of Westminster. I looked at the hills, which were now a low shade of violet. I wondered what I thought of the whole political farrago and could not quite frame a good conclusion. I stopped to take some daffodil pictures instead.

Tania Kindersley

I loved the city once, with a wild, passionate love. I could not go back there now. I am bucolic to my fingertips. But rural life is not always as expected as it might seem. Not all of the clichés are true.

Devastated by his affair

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 10 April 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

Three months ago I discovered my partner was having an affair - I was devastated. I adored him and thought he felt the same way. He even brought her to our house, though he denies this. I went to see her. She has a long-term partner, but he is completely clueless about the affair - maybe I should tell him. She cried, apologised and said that I was lovely and nothing like my partner had told her, and that he didn't deserve me.

He had been running me down to her and our friends. I don't know which way to turn: there is still love there, but it's not the same. I now check his his phone and e.mails- there is no trust left.

He gets annoyed with me and says I should be 'over it ' and it was a big mistake.

We are both in our 50s and left our long term marriages for each other. I can't face having to sell our house and start again. We are talking about getting married, but would it be marriage for the wrong reason?

Patricia Marie says...

If the person you love has an affair and falls in love with someone else, your world falls apart. Everything you thought you felt and shared with each other is thrown into question, even if they end the affair and say they still love and want to be with you. Alternatively, if they say their lover meant little to them and dismiss them as just a passing fancy, that can be equally devastating. They have put the relationship at risk for some meaningless pleasure. On top of this, he was running you down. It sounds as if he does not love you as much as you love him.

You only discovered his infidelity three months ago, so its quite unreasonable to think you should 'just get over it'. Trust can sometimes be rebuilt, although never easy to regain completely.

He needs to talk about why he had the affair, and show you that he really loves you and sorry for what he's done. If he has a history of affairs, the risks are high and it may be better to end the relationship. If you do decide to marry, it should be because you really want to be with him and he feels the same way, not because you can't face selling up and starting again.

Got a dilemma, please email 
Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

Insta-love NOT Insta-hate

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Wednesday, 09 April 2014
I know I’m meant to hate Instagram. All those #perfect lives documented in each #perfect square. But I just can’t. Instead I. Love. It. The social picture-sharing website makes me laugh and admire in equal measure as it rolls out varying degrees of smugness, clever captions and artistic prowess. I suppose, for me, it’s like delving behind the scenes on a glossy magazine shoot or jumping into a food photographer’s kitchen… really, honestly not quite as offensive as many are making out.

So I’m here today to defend my sepia-tinted friend to those insta-haters:

1. You say you hate selfies. Well, my response would be to look at the extending arm needed to snap and you’ll start to find them pretty amusing.
2. You say it gives you food envy. But does it inspire you to cook something? Or even give you a sneak preview of what your long-anticipated dinner at Chiltern Firehouse might look like?
3. You say perfect children are nauseating. I say it’s a moment in time, relax.
4. You say they over-share. But their constant need to update doesn’t need to be connected to your constant need to observe. Control your insta-urge!
5. You say it makes you GREEN-EYED. Don’t be ridiculous. Their lives through 70s rose-tinted glasses, cropped to perfection and edited till bliss aren’t real.

My last piece of insta-advice is to choose carefully who you follow, enjoy the real artists out there and relish a pretty nosy insight into curiously documented lives. I certainly do.

You can read more musings from Emma at

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