Friday, 30 January 2015

Friday Reads: The Girl On The Train- Paula Hawkins

Every day Rachel catches the same train to work. She knows the route, surroundings and the fact it will wait at a signal and overlook a row of back gardens. She's even created stories about some of the people that live in the houses. But one house is perfect to her. There is a perfect couple, with a perfect home and life. That is until she sees something shocking. In the blink of an eye she is caught up in the lives of the people she sees. She's not just the girl on the train anymore. 

I'm a massive fan of a good psychological thriller. Crime novels have too much gore, horror is just out of the question. But a good thriller leaves me turning the pages and guessing what is going on right up until the plot twist is revealed. 

This book is wonderful. Split into a multiple person narrative like Gone Girl it explores the same shocking moment from several people's points of view. It was hard at first to distinguish who was who. All the narrators are female and roughly the same age so at times I was having to glance at the top of the page where their name was. 

But the story itself was fantastic. Between an alcoholic, a liar and a cheat you don't know which character you can trust. 

Rachel isn't the best witness. With a multitude of problems in her personal life she is described as being volatile and reckless with her statements. But she is desperate to solve the mystery and will do whatever it takes to help. She just can't remember anything after a few drinks.

It's a fast paced book. One they grips you like Before I Go To Sleep but with the female grittiness of Gone Girl. It reminded me heavily of Rear Window. Seeing something you shouldn't have, getting involved in it and trying to solve the crime. 

There are some great twists and bumps in this tale. Each narrative from the women come at different time points but somehow end at the same place. A bit like racing trains that will inevitably crash. 

I think the less said about the story the better. It's one that needs to be read to fully enjoy. Too much about the story will definitely spoil it!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A young mum. My story.

I never expected to be a young mum, damn I never imagined myself even being a mum. I was one of those girls at school that everyone said wouldn't be a teen mum, I was too good for that. But at 19, I fell pregnant. 

Most people see 19 and think, well you are old enough to get married, have a house, have a job, why not a baby. But I was at the end of my first year of uni, had been with Scott less than a year when I realised that I was pregnant. 

We were being safe. I was on the pill, I had been on it for years. Religiously taking it as if it was an extension of myself. But for one week I was also taking some tablets for a chest infection. The doctor never told me that it could mess with my pill so I didn't think anything of it. 5 months later and I started getting horrendous headaches and stomach cramps. After thinking things through I tell Scott that I'm coming off the pill and we would need to use alternate contraception. 

A month had passed and I still hadn't got my period. So I thought I would pick up a test. Freaking out that I had messed something up as I was coming off the pill. When those two blue lines appeared I broke down. I didn't know what to do or say. I called Scott in tears and drove all the way down to Portsmouth to tell him. His family guessed almost straight away and within 24 hours my mum knew too. We were both 20, at uni and pregnant. 

We decided to go to the family planning clinic with my mum, talk things through there and decide what the best thing for us to do was. When they got me up to give me an ultrasound they gave me the shock of my life "You're about 6 months pregnant, did you know that?". Cue another breakdown from all of us. Not only was I pregnant. But I had 3 months to decide what the hell I should do. None of us knew how we hadn't noticed. I'd gone up a dress size but put that down to eating rubbish and going out at university. Not being pregnant! 

After sitting with Scott for what felt like days we decided we had to keep this child. it was given to us for a reason and we would love it and bring it up as best as we damn could. It took both sets of parents a while to come to terms. Of course it would, we were young, in our prime and all of a sudden expecting a child that was going to change our lives. I remember my mum coming home one day with a packet of baby grows and giving me a hug. Chatting with her friends at work they had reassured her that it wasn't a bad thing, amongst all the death she dealt with, we were bringing new life into the world and it was a blessing.  

Next thing we knew we were in a whirlwind of appointments, scans and checks. Thankfully everything was perfect. We got told we were having a girl, but still picked out neutral stuff. I'm definitely not a pink girl! (we all know how that turned out!)

Within a fortnight we had deferred a year of uni, sorted out maternity/paternity leave and found a place to live. It was as if we were on fast forward and it was only getting faster. We went on a long weekend to Disneyland Paris which did us the world of good. Our last chance at being us before we were parents. That's not to say we didn't still do what we wanted. 2 days before Max was born we went to a gig. I'm pretty sure that put me into labour. 

I'd already decided that my mum and Scott were to be in the room with me. I didn't know how he would react to all the pain I would be in and I knew that my mum would be a calming influence on the room. Luckily I had a swift labour and he was born in a few hours. When we all realised our little girl was actually a boy I think we were just as shocked as when we found out I was expecting!

It's been tough being a young mum. I've had jeers and stares, comments and murmurs about how I've done it for benefits. What surprises most people is that we are both working, have degrees and not in a council house. Yes we get help but 99% of it is done ourselves. Having Max made us more focused and determined to succeed. 

I ended up in a deep swing of postnatal depression. Looking back now it was because our life was on fast forward. It's only been since I was out of uni that I've managed to slow it down. Take everything in and relax. I've learnt to love being a mum, be proud to be a young parent and want to empower more young mums to feel the same. We aren't the stereotype, in fact none of us are. We are all banishing those stereotypes in one way or another. 

Honestly I wouldn't have it any other way now. We have our own family of 3 and we are perfect that way. Being a young mum was one of the best turning points in my life. I love Max and I can't wait to see him grow up. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Den making with Philips

With all the modern technology in your life you can forget the simple things. Long walks in the forest, baking with the family and making a great fort out of copious amounts of blankets. When Philips Lighting asked me to get involved and rekindle our love of den building we jumped at the chance. 

When our kit arrived we were amazed. I had never seen a box of treats so big. With a tent, tunnel, bunting and blankets we knew we would be able to create a masterpiece, kill some hours and have some great fun as a family.

Not only were we sent some awesome tools for our den we were also sent this gorgeous Disney SoftPal Sulley. A soft to touch night light that is perfect for cuddling at bed-time.  

First of all we got to the task in hand, making the den. Whilst Max and Scott scribbled away making a cool sign, I started to create the den itself. It took me a while to work out the best place to put it. When it was on the floor it didn't really feel that comfy and when then it seemed way too dark once I put all the blankets on. 

That's when I had a brainwave though. Why don't I put it on the bed? Some expertly tied string could fasten it to the posts and it was right near a plug socket so I could adorn it with fairy lights. Filling the inside with copious amounts of blankets and cushions I was finally ready. 

Max of course dived straight in. With a tunnel to get into his room, he was amazed that his bed could go from something that was quite boring to something that was magical. Dragging his toys in he started to play and describe all these fun adventures he was going on. It really was a perfect thing to do on a cold afternoon. 

Of course no den was complete without a nightlight and Max adored his SoftPal Sulley. It was a breeze to set up. Simply take the base and figure out. Plug in and press to charge! To turn him on it was a gently lean to the side and then another to turn off. Something that a kid can do in the night to help them make their way to the bathroom or to simply turn on when they are feeling that monsters are there!

It's been a firm favourite since we have had it. Being used each night without fail and perfect to snuggle off to sleep to. The light seems to last all night and is great as it has no sharp pieces, small parts or things that could hurt a child. 

We had so much fun making our den. Thank you Philips for helping us remember how much fun it is to switch off!