Wednesday, 27 January 2010

How do you feel about 40?

Do you realise that you are going to be 40 in April?

Yes, that is what the diary says.

Does it bother you?

Not really, you are as old as the man you feel.

Well that makes you 50!

Okay, back track. I still feel as if I am embarking on adult life, but what I see in the mirror does indicate that I may be ageing. Make-up has become good manners rather than creative expression and the last time I visited a University I was shocked that they were letting in kids rather than contemporaries.

Do you mind being 40?

They say age is just a number, but being 40 has come as a bit of surprise.

By 40 weren't you meant to have achieved life's goals?

I remember saying to my first boss that I wanted to own a flat in London and a palace in Venice while running a large business.

Exactly what have you achieved?

I have a tumble down cottage that one day may be comfortable, I am setting up a business that has yet to break even and I can almost afford a holiday every other year. But, I am happy!

Er, happiness was not on your original wish list. Do you have any concerns?

Of course, I have concerns. I would love Sarita to have a brother or a sister but I am having a few miscarriage issues. Also I would love my business to be a huge success as I fundamentally believe in it.

Are you worried about failing on either of these counts?

Failure is quite an emotive word, besides both are a work in progress. I need a bit of TLC on the medical front, as I am fed up of feeling like shit, and some better time management skills on the business front; they are not critical factors in my happiness.

So how are you really feeling about turning 40?

Surprised that it has come around so quickly, but I think that with age I must be working out what really matters. This morning Sarita clambered into bed just a few minutes ahead of our alarm and we had a gentle family cuddle - that is worth more than a Palace in Venice to me! Let's start organising the party!

Why the Pretty Good Life

Well, people always try to typecast you. I had a somewhat disastrous relationship with a PR agency - who after taking loads of my money said that unless Kate Moss designed a dress for my business I was doomed to failure and that I should give up. One of the random things that she did do was write a press release tangentially about the business that talked about me living the good life. I had to rewrite it when one magazine editor mentioned that she liked it but that the English was appalling and misleading. So here is that article that I rewrote as intro to my life. While you read it I'll take the dog for a walk and plot how I am going to complete the first workshop assignment.

Hurray its spring time! In my old life the seasons just passed in a blur as I rushed between the tube, the office and the pub or restaurants – now Spring has real meaning. It has been a gradual transition, Vogue and Elle Deco magazines of old have made way for ABC Magazine and seed catalogues.

Like many of my contemporaries we moved out of London to offer our planned family a better lifestyle – and we have embraced it with open arms. Remember the Good Life? It lives on in our tiny seventeenth century cottage by suburban Berkshire, with our rescue chickens roaming around the fruit trees, the terraced kitchen garden and herb beds.

Sarita loves the garden – she chatters to the chickens and collects the eggs with real pride. Not only can I make the perfect herb omelet when we have forgotten to do the shopping but Sarita can toddle off to harvest her own herbs, keeping her from under my feet in the pre-meal flourish while simultaneously giving the satisfaction of contributing. Home harvested vegetables are so much more appealing than their standard store bought equivalent; leafy vegetables become covetable 'chard-from-the-garden' and peas straight from the bush are a favourite summer snack. It is great to see her taking her friends to see 'her' vegetable patch, and watching the wide eyed appreciation of the sight of a cauliflower that is ready to be picked.

Everyday has been a game as we discover what Berkshire has to offer. We are not brave enough to go the whole hog and keep pigs, but we still do our bit to link farming with the table. We have found the most amazing farm shop in Arborfield with a children's petting farm. We can say hello to the Shetland pony, feed the greedy Pygmy goats and marvel at the size of the sows, all for free, before popping into the shop for our Sunday roast.

Living the ‘Good life’ has not come easy. When we moved in back in 2002 there was no heating, no hot water and no inside toilet. When our daughter, Sarita, was born we had no proper flooring and the kitchen was only half finished. We had a mammoth task to make the cottage comfortable especially when money has been tight,especially after I was made redundant To overcome the doom and gloom outlook I bought a border collie pup called Aston (when the aspirational Aston Martin disappeared off the shopping list we thought laterally).’ As the renovation work took over we even resorted to buying an old red Routemaster Bus for our garden to store our furniture and to give us extra living space.

If home is where the heart is, I was going to work from home doing something I could be passionate about. When Sarita was little I had made the most amazingly useful over sized poncho, or Rockin Hood, to counter the struggles of getting coats on and off. If I had made a great product when I could not find what I wanted how many Mums had similar inspiration, I wondered? By the same rationale, if I could turn waste ground into a terraced veg patch how difficult could it be to set up a website selling only great products by Mums, ideas that really work? The answer to that it VERY difficult – but a year later and I have set up (or for short) with over 25 Mums (including myself) selling great products from the Wean Machine to a fantastic bag that doubles as a baby carrier and many, many things in between.

The site is aimed at inspirational Mums – not just those who want to shop but those who want to share our vision. The Good Life permeates the site. We have seasonal recipes, inspired by the garden and a range of free ideas for entertaining little ones. Often Sarita and I try out new recipes together for the site, or on a rainy day find out how to make our own play dough or modelling sand – turning a simple activity into an afternoon's worth of fun and sharing. After all, what do you remember about The Good Life? Laughter! That is what it all about.


I have been blogging for a while, but mainly talking about setting up Mothers if Innovation. Two things have prompted me to set up another blog:

a. I have been inspired by The Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop. Josie aka @Porridgebrain has been running this workshop for a while and often when reading particularly poignant blogs I have seen how they have been inspired by Josie. I love to write but have never prioritised it in my weekly life.

b. I love my other blog Mother of Innovation but it has become a business tool linked into my Facebook fan page and twitter. This is not a cynical move, just the way things progressed and it now seems inappropriate to ramble on about anything too personal.

The aim of The Pretty Good Life is merely to explore writing and try and be honest at all times - and hopefully to write something worth reading in the meantime. I am sure that there is lots to learn, so please feel free to advise and steer me in this new challenge!

Thanks for reading,