Christmas and New Year at The Mitchell’s

The Christmas rush has finished presents have been presented, everyone was happy with their gifts which this year I felt less stress, chocolates opened, table decorated after my night of being taught how to gather foliage together and make it look Christmassy, my mum and dad collected and dropped to us curtesy of my eldest brother who shot off quick as a flash while I was blow drying my hair.

Peter #1 husband and I have battled through getting the dinner done whilst quaffing back prosecco, this year Poppy #1 daughter was with her boyfriend’s family,  we dished up only what can be described as a feast fit for a king but the gravy was not its usual deliciousness but other than that no complaints which ended with Max #1 son doing some charades until my poor mum couldn’t sit around the table any longer as she was in pain (due to her osteoporosis) and we couldn’t leave her in the front room alone. Once you sit down to watch the gritty on telly like EastEnders then relax that is it and no one got pudding just stollen cake and Quality Street chocs. No one was in the mood for much else let alone dancing to “It’s Christmas by Slade”.

Celebrating with family can be a tricky one and Poppy #1 daughter wanted to entertain us and Ollie’s family. (Ollie is one of four boys) at their new flat, now this was great, but I usually do Boxing day and having a larger house can entertain more people hence not seeing my sister, her family or my brother etc. So, this year has been quieter than usual.

That bit between Christmas and New Year where we are in no man’s land that is where we are at now, picking up chocolate wrappers and empty glasses constantly. Went for a boozing lunch with friends at The Ned in London. Been over to Peter’s mum and to see family big tick but I have no desire to go shopping although as you may know from one of my earlier blogs I have birthdays beginning of January. The expectation of celebrating New Years and not wanting to actually make the effort because unless I make effort we won’t do a thing. Last New Year we went with friends to our local tennis club as Molly #3 daughter hadn’t turned 18 and our friends son is just 13, it’s a place where we have spent many fun nights but apart from the company there was little pizazz that is when I made a mental note to make sure we have booked a restaurant or hotel etc did I? no I didn’t and the  year before when  Peter had been unwell so stayed in and watched the fireworks and Robbie Williams let’s just say it wasn’t my fave. Even my children are umming and erring on what to do, leaving ideas to the last minute no one wanting to get it wrong. We were invited to go away but brushed it aside and now wishing we had taken the offer.

So, this year I’m pretending it’s any other day of the year I have been to see my parents had a glass of fizz and promised I will pop in tomorrow, bought some steak and will enjoy an evening of just me and Peter. Max and a few of his friends turned up for a few Old Fashions before heading out. Who knows how it going to turn out we will probably won’t eat the steak, drink too much and end up falling asleep on the sofa. But I will raise my glass to 2018 and wish everyone a Happy and Peaceful New Year and to my family muchos love and to be safe with a thousand kisses. I can see 2019 is going to a fine one already.

Karen x


Christmas Stress

I know it’s only November but we are getting into the time of year where most of us start getting ourselves ready for Christmas, I’m not one of these people who are really organised months before as

1. I have no idea what anyone would like.
2. I don’t want to get it wrong!

I have already touched on this in an earlier blog, birthdays also bring the same worries but Christmas has me going down into a deep spiral and last year I hit that bottom and decided I am no longer going to put myself under so much pressure. Really?

I was only chatting to my parents saying I feel like I have just put my flip flops away from the summer and the shop in our local town has been filled with tinsel, robotic Santa’s and every inconceivable item that anyone would want at the end of September. Don’t get me wrong I love Christmas and I like nothing more than enjoying the festivities but I feel doom at not getting it right.

I find it very stressful as it’s a time to be jolly and happy and you want everyone to be the same and expectations of the big day make me feel anxious as being the “Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” may be ruined by an argument or not buying the right pressie or over cooking the turkey. I can’t believe it myself that I feel like this as I have always wanted it to be magical for my children.

I already had the chat with Peter #1 husband about ordering our turkey and ham, we wouldn’t want to be without a turkey on the big day now would we. Our local butcher is brilliant and on their 80th anniversary of being open they decided the 80th person to put their order in would win the turkey that they ordered and lo and behold on Christmas eve after I had queued I was presented with a turkey it was a hilarious moment as the butchers was packed and my face was as red as a cranberry and every year now when we go to collect our Christmas order we have the same conversation…”won’t be getting a free one this year” aarrrggg.  The Christmas tree, when to buy, are you going to be around to help Peter?? who is going to put the decorations up, moving furniture to fit the biggest tree Peter can get his hands on. More stress.

I went with my friend Kelly to a demonstration on how to dress your table at Christmas which was fantastic it was with a local florist Mad Lilies and hosted by a local interior designer Louisa Grace interiors premises. What a lovely evening shown how not to over complicate your table and using simple items to bring your Christmas table together…. I have already ordered my napkins and nutcracker soldier along with different colour glasses. I’m hoping this will bring me some calm and relaxation to focus on.

Many years ago Max #1 son had asked for a PSP hand-held game station I was so prepared bought it then hid it in that special place and when I went to wrap it Christmas eve I couldn’t find it, panic set in along with crying and I had the whole house pulled apart so in the end I had to tell my little boy he won’t be getting what he wanted due to my terrible hiding and it might have been thrown away and it was too late to get another. My anxiety was on overload and that feeling of “I got it wrong again”. He took this well I think then while we sat around Christmas morning I remembered where I had hidden it….. not so magical for him the poor love but least he got his PSP and a few other pressies that I had hidden with it. This was because I was being organised and bought presents early to stop the stress!

Over cooked turkey, burnt gravy, too many vodka martini’s, lost pressies, being sad regarding loved ones, not sending cards, wrong presents, these all contribute to my stressful Christmases. I know Christmas is not all about the presents etc and some may be feeling lonely, homeless, not with love one’s, money issues, poorly or they don’t even celebrate Christmas and I totally understand, empathise and sympathise but I cannot help myself getting stressed.

This year and as my children are older, Poppy #1 daughter has her own home and is having dinner with her boyfriend’s parents (a space around the table will still be waiting) but I’m looking forward to seeing Max #1 son, Liberty #2 daughter and Molly #3 daughter  back from university and will all be sitting around the table with my mum and dad with my new table layout and enjoying being with family. I will try to keep things simple, joyful and calm and pray when Peter cooks the dinner it all goes well without a hitch and all will be merry.

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas let’s get this right its one day, try not to get into debt don’t force it and I will try to keep my stress and anxiety to a minimum. Have a merry one.

My Christmas table setting

Karen x

It’s all in the hands of the masseuse

I feel I was a bit of a late comer to a massage, not something my parents ever did until they went to Thailand and that was when they had retired so when my friend Lisa was thirty Peter suggested we went to The Sanctuary which was in Covent Garden but alas closed in May 2014, anyway we had a day planned and both were massage virgins. We both were led away separately and taken to a room with a bed with heavenly scents and soothing music. I enjoyed this sensual massage and felt very relaxed whilst the lady spoke to me gently. After I went back around the pool and laid on a sun bed flicking through a magazine and I gave it a 10 out of 10 but when Lisa came out red faced marching towards me I wondered what had happened, her experience was nothing like mine as she explained that Helga the Shot Putter had pulled her knickers down and massaged her bum and was very close to something else. Lisa was so indignant I laughed so hard, she felt violated even now I only spoke about it to her this weekend and she still shivers at the thought but when I think about it, makes me smile. Since then we have been for a head and shoulder massage together just to be safe and Lisa went to Greece where she had an amazing experience.

Only a little while ago whilst in Spain Peter suggested I have a massage on the beach by a Chinese lady, I was happy with that and while I lay there relaxed in the sun having my shoulders massaged I wondered if she is massaging my back then who the hell is massaging my calves, when I looked round there was a tiny creepy Chinese man literally at the foot of the bed going at my legs. VERY uncomfortable and disturbing to say the least. Peter however found this very amusing. I’m not doing that again!

When we visited Thailand it seemed to be the everyday norm on the beach so advised Poppy #1 daughter when she visited she should go for one…..oh no no her experience was dreadful being pulled about and put in positions without a bra on and with an audience.! That experience she will never forget and never wants to experience it again, since then a friend told her she had the same sort of massage as her while visiting Thailand, this gives her a little bit of comfort. Does make me chuckle though.

The more I write about massages the more I remember having more. Max #1 son bought me a voucher for a full massage in a local Rush Beauty , it was great until she massaged one side of my shoulder with her elbow which was excruciating, I thought I was going to scream, then it was over until I realised she was going to do the same to the other shoulder ouch now that hurt but a good all round massage.

A massage can be a personal thing. With a person you don’t know touching you whilst you are undressed and vulnerable, so can be quite intimidating to say the least. Whilst working in a school a male member of staff massaged my back in a friendly way while I sat at my desk I did laugh but this could have been taken in the wrong way but of course I didn’t… the girls around me laughed out loud at my red face. We a left in the hands of the masseuse we don’t ask for identification or certificates so any Tom, Dick or Harry can do it..ha

I look forward to my next massage not on the beach in Spain, maybe in Thailand but I haven’t been put off just yet!!!


Its Definitely A Girl Thing #Bras

Now I’m not the smallest girl on top I’m talking boobs, tits, bosoms, breasts whatever you might call them. Mine didn’t make an appearance till I was around 15. I remember laying in bed watching my sister in front of our dressing table mirror thinking oh my god am I going to get them one day, now my sister is ten years older than me so being a six year old looking at a sixteen year old this took an amazingly long time and when they did grow they decided not to stop!

Shopping for bras was excruciating when I was younger, being measured by a matronly women in a department store and being given certain wide strapped frumpy harnesses, which would make me feel ghastly with a lump in my throat. Having to endure a fateful Christmas giving and receiving presents with my 2 brothers, sister and other halves when my mum gave me my pressie “exciting” you would think but HELL NO! I unwrapped the most hideous, old granny bra with a comment from my mum “it was the only one in your size” Kill me moment comes to mind the bloody straps could of held up an elephant.

Thank god for the person who actually realised its not just old ladies that have larger breast or even tiny ones. We need and want to wear something pretty not some old fashioned restraining mechanism. Now you can go to Marks and Spencer’s on the high street and pick one off the shelf. 2014 see a change for them and I shout hallelujah to that so I don’t have to go to a specialist bra shop just to get my size and in fact spend an absolute fortune.

Due to pregnancy and weight gain over the years my cup size has fluctuated but I now have a choice and in various colour yippee I still haven’t learnt my lesson of when something is perfect buy a couple (if you can afford it) but never do. For now I’m happy to be able to buy a bra or bikini in my size and feel nice, even sexy and not just making do with an ugly hammock contraption just because. Actually the other week we saw an advert for bigger sizes on telly and liberty commented, “really does anyone want tassels on their bras” eeeermm Yes.

My girls haven’t been blessed with my size breasts, I’m actually glad as I found them a real pain when I was younger and only started to like them in my thirties as fashion and coming to terms with the fact that they didn’t seem to be going any where. No one is truly happy with their lot. I always wanted to have smaller one’s, which they have got so perhaps my wish came true for them.

We are now in a generation where we can get what we want by clicking a button and some very fine people have helped us larger busted ladies Attollo lingerie, Boux Avenue, Figleaves to name a few. I THANK YOU.






Today I was compelled to write about something that isn’t funny, that is expected but always shocking and something we will never get use to, overwhelmingly, how do you respond? There actually isn’t a right way.

Today a beautiful lady left this earth due to cancer, why it picked her that is something we will never know; it picks indiscriminately and doesn’t care who it hurts. It’s a thing that everyone is scared of and we should be. This lovely lady has a large caring family, who are heartbroken how is this life fair.

I have been touched by death, my nephew losing his little girl, heart breaking my best friend losing both her brothers, my auntie, my beloved uncle, father in law so sad and how do you explain it? Why does it hurt so much? People die all the time but for some reason us humans cannot get it together and be ready for it. We will never be prepared.

My children have been lucky, they can’t remember Peter’s dad they only have our memories and pictures and when both of my Nan’s died they were so young. They knew my uncle Ken and he left them with fond memories but it wasn’t until this January our family pet dog Peggy died. I saw their vulnerability, she was their sister she wasn’t a dog just part of our family which has left a massive gap in our home that I’m not sure can be filled again, she was our baby. Each of my children dealt with it differently and would have her back in a shot if we could.

I wish I had the answers; I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix broken hearts. I want to know why, do I believe there is a higher power or a god, I’m not sure, if there was I want to know why and that answer is definitely not coming any time soon. Some take comfort hoping there is and that is totally up to them and if this brings them a sense of security I applaud it. The pain of grief cannot be measured. I hope there are angels, I hope we become stars, I hope our loved ones are watching over us. Finding comfort in whatever you believe must help the grieving process.

To all our loved ones who we have lost along the way we must treasure the memories and hope they rest easy where ever they may travel to.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.



Birthday’s Galore

Having four children is a wonderful joy as some can imagine. There are always highs and lows and in The Mitchell house birthdays are a thing to celebrate.  Since the day they were born we have sat on our bed opened cards which are read top to bottom and nothing missed out and presents are given with the obligatory box of Malteasers… this has now changed as Poppy now lives with Oliver and Liberty lives at dance college plus trying to fit 6 adults on our bed was beginning to become quite difficult with vying for space and there is nothing worse than being under the covers when someone is sitting on top which is pulling the covers tight very uncomfortable but lovely as I miss it dreadfully.

Whilst planning a family I didn’t take much care of dates of conceiving so 3 of 4 of our brood have birthdays quite close together in December and January and what with Christmas this can be quite challenging. For instance wanting a specific presents i.e. Power Ranger, Toy Story’s Buzz, Baby Annabel along with every other child on the planet can be quite stressful.  Now long before we could press a button and Amazon could deliver in 2 hours or tell us when it will be in stock we had to use all sorts of methods, calling stores, getting everyone on board to keep a look out in far flung Woolworths, sending Peter on wild goose chases in London hoping he would come back with the bounty so no one would be disappointed. This is stressful and now has an impact on how I feel, the anxiety I feel and this is my own doing. Why have I put this pressure on to myself??

Sending out birthday party invites that get mixed up with Christmas cards and the inevitable would happen no shows and booking a McDonald’s birthday party where everyone had lost interest due to new years celebrations. I’m not being negative and I would never let anything stop the fun but you can’t help the day your born everyone has a birthday.

This brings me to my stress levels with celebrations. I never want to disappoint, never want to get it wrong and everyone wants a surprise. My children like nothing more than having a surprise of not knowing what they are getting (but have hinted) and would never want to know what I have purchased and even to have it before their said birthdays, now that would be sacrilege and is scorned upon when other children have had their play station or leather jacket a week before their birthday… WHAT are you thinking mother!  What are you going to open on your birthday or Christmas?!

This year has been a particular biggy for our House, I turned 50 and Poppy 25 in December, Molly turned 18 and Liberty is 21 this weekend.  So no house party this time, which I was quite thankful for as we have had some humdingers but the clearing up afterwards and making sure the loo hasn’t, overflowed during the fun has had my stress levels nearly at breaking point.  Am I going to get it right? I hope so. Will they be disappointment? No but we all have expectations of what we want, when I had a 40th Birthday party, so much effort, balloons, buffet, disco and time and at the end of it felt a bit deflated as no one touched the food, didn’t get to chat to all my friends as time just flashed by. This time 10 years later decided best have a small affair with family and a few friends, which worked out fantastic.

This week I have arranged for Poppy and Liberty to go for Spa treatments in No1 The Alywch in The Strand London (I would of loved to have gone but due to working and times) they had a splendid time swimming, steam room, neck and back massage but was blown away by the pedicure, so I’m jealous and WILL be booking in May with my friend Nat. Then quick run out of work to collect a bouquet of balloons which was much bigger than I expected then run them up to All Bar One bar in our town whilst talking to a lady regarding a present that had been ordered and not delivered arrrrrrgggg stress and to top it off it’s the hottest day of the year so far and the balloons start popping giving people the biggest fright with a man actually screaming like a four year old. Phew. Run home as college friends arriving open a bottle of something and chuck P!nk on Alexa and off we go.  Wake up, do it all again this time with Max and Peter.

It doesn’t stop there…have I bought them the right things? Have they got enough? There has been times when poor Max has either not told us what he wants or been on holiday so we say “just say what you want” then he forgets, then I forget so he is most probably owed 2 birthday pressies to date.  Anyway nothing I can change now money has been spent, the cake is ready, one present missing the main one but hey I’m only human after all and lets hope “J” from the gym doesn’t want to weigh me this week because this girl might actually have a heart attack through stress along with car break down, visiting my parents and also doing the normal day to day mundane chores.

I have a break now until Peter’s birthday in June that brings its own worries what do you buy the man that literally has everything and needs nothing? Plus I have to ask for money to buy his gift- hilarious in itself. Oh well still in celebratory mode so need to stop worrying.       Happy 21st Liberty Starshine



Family holiday well and truly booked

We decided a couple of weeks ago to book a holiday…. now I love holiday’s and I like nothing more than packing a case for ONE, with this I mean I have long left behind packing for four children and one husband which would usually have me at breaking point even before we had decided to leave for the airport.  I now have the luxury of packing my own and giving advice to whoever may be coming along. This brings me back to picking this years annual holiday.

I thought about Cuba. Now whilst researching I over heard a group of people in a pub in Wimbledon discussing their holiday in Cuba. now trying to listen to Peter and having one ear on their conversation is tricky in itself ( which is one of Peter’s bugbear’s when I’m interested in someone’s convo that is not on our table) one person had booked independently and the other booked with Tui, stretching my ear to listen all I got was lovely beach and all-inclusive was ok..not that helpful. I looked online but I find the more you look the more bamboozled I become and people’s reviews were very mixed. A few weeks later we visited our local Italian (owned by Portguese) restaurant and Silvio told us he was off to Cuba and he gave it a big old thumbs up…now to persuade Peter but as always he is “Mr Manjana” so we have to wait.

It had taken sometime to pin Peter down to discuss, pick and the dreaded word Pay and eventually we had decided not to head to Cuba this year and try Thailand again.

The first time was around five years ago with our friends Annabel, Paul and their son. Although we had a brilliant time both Paul and Peter had been unwell and it had felt like unfinished business. Now last time we headed for Bangkok then onto Koh Chang. The furthest I had ever been has been Florida and my parents have been to Thailand before the major tsunami in 2004 and had given us great reviews.

We arrived to five star treatment, amazing food and hospitality. We took a walk along the most beautiful beach in Koh Chang and I couldn’t believe there were coconuts on the beech that had fallen from the tree, so I ran over to pick one up and as I did my fingers slid deep into the rancid rotten meat smelling fruit, any sort of paradise left my senses with the most horrific smell, I ran into the sea to wash it off but no luck and the walk back to the hotel was a good 40 minute walk. Heavenly scented I was not!  Another time we let Molly#3and Liberty#2 go out on a canoe with Annabel’s son and we convinced ourselves they were going to die and be eaten by sharks so began screaming on beach for them to come back to the shore, they returned unfazed by this with the words of “what the hell, we was having fun”.

I found a love for Thai food, roasted coconut and met some lovely people, I keep in touch with Tree a young man who worked in a local bar on the beach via face book and I haven’t had the heart to say we are returning but not to Koh Chang.

When we went last time Poppy#1 and Max #1 son didn’t come as they will not this year . Max spent New Year in Australia with his best buddy who is travelling at the moment and Poppy is off to Canada in September for a friends wedding.  I hope we can get a few days away all together in the sunshine later this year. We all went to Ibiza last year which was amazing.

Back to Thailand, our friends are going as well but they are staying in Pattaya for the whole time so we have decided to have two nights in Bangkok then three nights in Pattaya, they have been there before so will be able to show us the sights without losing time faffing around then on to Koh Sumui for nine days. Liz and Paul’s hotel has a water park, lazy river etc as they have younger children with them, so we have decided to stay in a hotel just along the way leaving us able to dip in and out. I have been checking online for iteneries for three days so leaving us time to relax and have fun. I’m quite excited but we have at least four months yet. I think the girls will have a different time and are really enthusiastic, we all want to try yoga in our hotel and are eager to be a bit more adventurous . We will have to wait and see, what with a boyfriend being left behind and time differences.  For now….

Kob Kuhn Mak