Being a Stay at home Mum

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I’ve just written a post, where I mention the frustration of having a good idea for a blog and then having no idea how to go about actually writing it. So I may as well confess, I’m stuck! I have been meaning to write this post for a few months now but as yet …. So I decided to just sit down and write, but as you can see I’m waffling on about writers block and as yet haven’t even mentioned being a stay at home Mum (SAHM) I wanted to write a post on what I do as a SAHM, my ‘job’ if you like?

I thought if I just started writing the words would somehow come tumbling out and yet, still nothing. The problem is two fold, firstly I do so many different things in a day it would be hard to quantify and secondly I guess if I’m completely honest with you, I worry that people will read this post and think ‘that’s all you do?’ I loathe the age old battle of the SAHM v the working Mum, I’ve even blogged about it, but unfortunately it still exists. I have had many, seemingly innocuous, comments over the nineteen years that I have been doing this. They usually go along the lines of ‘You’re a stay at home Mum, it must be lovely to have so much time on your hands.’ I try to be a decent person and not bop them on the head whilst screaming, ‘time what time?!’ before being carted off by the men in white coats, a dribbling wreck.

Although even if the above scenario really did happen, I would probably be imploring the driver of the ambulance to stop off at the supermarket, on the way to the hospital for broken Mum’s, as I have nothing to put in the boys packed lunches tomorrow. Then if we could just squeeze in a quick trip home first, so I can put a quick load of washing in the machine and pick up little Jimmy’s swimming kit; because for the fourth week in a row he has left it in a mouldering heap under his bed, unwashed from the previous weeks swimming trip. Whilst we are there please excuse the pile of unwashed dishes, it may be the twenty first century but we still can’t afford a dish washer and dinner for six people creates a lot of mess.

I think I would have to be sedated with a mega dose of Valium, before I could forget all the whirling thoughts about my children, the house and my never ending ‘to do list.’ Come to think of it I should probably stop writing about enforced stays in hospitals, because it is starting to sound like my idea of heaven! Don’t get me wrong I love being a SAHM, but there are times when I get very frustrated/fed-up/bored of it. As the above paragraph might have given you a tiny hint, I also sometimes struggle to keep up with everything and free time is most certainly not a given.

So what do I do all day? Well I won’t give you a detailed account, because I find my life pretty boring at times and I wouldn’t want to share that boredom with other poor unsuspecting souls. In a nut shell there is a huge amount of cooking and cleaning, even the amount of dust six people can create is alarming. Not to mention the fact that I have to wash 42 pairs of socks every week and don’t get me started on what 5 boys in one household can do to a bathroom. My load has lessened recently as my eldest is now at university. That said he arrived home the other day with a huge suitcase full of dirty washing.

I also take my Husband’s Grandmother to the hairdressers and do her shopping at Marks and Spencers. I’m now quite adept at elbowing the blue rinse brigade out of the way, in my dive for the last piece of reduced salmon. I wonder if I could put that on my C.V.? I’m also a keen ebayer, in fact almost all of our clothes shopping is done online and the majority is from ebay. I can dress the boys in Joules and Mini Boden for less than I would spend on clothes from Asda. W prefers Jack Wills and Ralph Lauren and for me, I buy my beloved fifties style dresses in the wrong season at a fraction of the usual price and sell them on again after a few months. In effect I rent my wardrobe, a great way of always having gorgeous dresses.

This takes up a lot of time, I’m brilliant at finding hidden bargains and dressing us all in great clothes on a budget but it requires patience and a steely nerve. I must resist all temptation not to go above budget and not to cry for too long if I miss out on a gorgeous Hell Bunny dress, five sobs per dress is my maximum.

The faint hearted might want to skip the next few lines, but I promised honesty on this blog …. Annoyingly a lot of my time is spent on the loo these days and to say that is frustrating would be an understatement. IBS and all it’s embarrassing foibles is probably best saved for another post; but if my postman happens to be reading this please save my ebay parcel delivery for the afternoon, how you always manage to ring the doorbell whilst I’m on the loo, I will never know.

Then there is the small business of moving house. We are in the process of moving for the second time in 8 months and the 8th time in 8 years! i’m sensing that 8 is not my lucky number. This house is great but has chronic damp to the point that all of our bedroom furniture and our living room bookcases have turned an alarming shade of blue/green due to the spectacular amounts of mould found growing on the back. More alarmingly W’s asthma has gotten so much worse since we moved in here. Needless to say moving takes a large amount of time, sometimes I feel I am constantly either packing or unpacking. On the plus side we have very little clutter, I am ruthless about getting rid of it, less to pack!

I could go on and on about my life as a SAHM, suffice to say every Mum has so very much to juggle and goodness only knows how working Mums manage to stay on top of everything. I’m running out of time for blogging, so I will end this post with a small plea. Ask me about my IBS, my weight, even my age but please don’t ask me about my free time. I promise not to bop you on the head, I’m a passive girl, but I can’t promise not to start dribbling all over you.

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Oh poo, I have chronic IBS!

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The faint of heart might want to look away now. I started this blog with the intention of being completely honest and open about my life. So even though I loathe talking about IBS, it dominates my life in such an enormous way; I wouldn’t be living up to my honesty promise, if I didn’t blog openly about it.

Having suffered for nearly three years, I have got a lot more open about telling people that I have a problem. Not by choice I might add, there are many things I would rather do than tell virtual strangers about my bowel habits, like having a tooth pulled at the dentist! But if you have this disease, then you will know that it’s not long before your dignity goes flying out of the window.

That said, although I see my doctor at least once a month and IBS is almost all we talk about, I still can’t quite look him in the eye when I say the word poo. I know, it’s ridiculous for a grown woman to blush at the mere mention of the word; but I would far rather be rudely refusing to meet his eye, staring at the floor, out of the window or anywhere except at him, when I say the word poo! Rather hilariously I find myself being embarrassed just by typing this and just accidentally hit caps lock, so it looked as though I were shouting the word out loud. Who knew fingers could have Freudian slips? Apparently I can’t even type the word like a normal person. Hopefully if I repeat the word numerous times in my blog, I might get used to it. Don’t hold your breath though ….

IBS is a horrible thing to suffer from, losing control of your bowels in a public place must hands down one of the most embarrassing things you could ever experience. Very fortuitously, I have always been near a toilet when it happened. I’m not sure I can convey the panic and discomfort very adequately. It’s almost one of the last bastions of decency, that we Brits and possibly the rest of the world too, do not talk about our bowel habits in public. This is particularly true of girls, in my experience anyway. I would far rather chat about a great orgasm to my girl friends, than tell them about my IBS in detail. So no one wants to suffer the ignominy of losing control of their bowels in a public place.

Fortunately although I have had a lot of near misses, which are bad enough, I have always just manage to get to a toilet in the nick of time. The first time it happened to me, I was driving home from my sister’s house, she lives in Oxfordshire and it’s an hour away from me. My stomach started rumbling ominously ten minutes into my journey. Had I known what I know now, I would have immediately turned the car round, hurried back to her house and to the sanctuary of a not so public toilet.

Instead I loosened the top button on my jeans and hoped it was just trapped wind. As I drove out of Burford, onto the country roads and away from any toilets, my tummy started to hurt. It kept up the alternate rumbling and painful spasms, until I needed the toilet desperately and of course there were none. It got so bad, I actually thought I would have to stop and go behind a big tree, but I knew I had diarrhoea and I couldn’t quite bring myself to go in a field somewhere.

I was so desperate I almost considered just going in the car, but how would I get out and into my house without someone spotting me? Should I speed dial my husband and explain my unexpected poo emergency and ask him to come out with a large towel to shield me and then what about the car upholstery and my clothes and oh god the smell doesn’t bear thinking about. So I clenched my teeth and of course my buttocks, broke all the speed limits and amazingly managed to pull into a pub 15 excruciating minutes later.

I parked across three spaces and knocked over several small children in my haste to get to the loo and for the first time in my life I paid no attention to polite niceties, such as queuing. I had made it in the nick of time and the ensuing explosion in the toilet was not pretty, sadly for me it was also not quiet and I sat shakily on the loo for a good ten minutes longer than was strictly necessary, just to make sure everyone had left before I dared show my face – beyond embarrassing.

It wasn’t a great experience, but I put it down to a mild bout of food poisoning and all was well for a few more weeks. Then of course it happened again and then again; until I could no longer blame what I had eaten and made an appointment to see my doctor. I managed to use every word under the sun to describe what had been happening to me recently except for the more obvious poo. IBS was suspected and I was given Loperamide or Imodium as it is better known and for a while it worked. Then it was no longer strong enough and I was given co codamol.

These pills gave me back some quality of life and although I still suffered attacks of diarrhoea at least twice a week, I knew the pills would stop it relatively quickly. That said it was still a very embarrassing thing to deal with, on several occasions I had to leave the gym because of an episode and eventually I had to give in and take the pills before I had an attack. This worked really well for a while, but by now I was experiencing other symptoms, such as extreme abdominal bloating and severe cramps. So I had no choice but to start taking Tramadol for pain relief. I also had to give up on drinking wine. It was, as you can imagine, a traumatic time to say the least, wine had been a great friend of mine and I was sorry not to be seeing so much of her.

Next in my IBS journey were the multitude of tests. You name a bowel condition or a disease that affects your bowels and I have probably had a test for it. I have been poked and prodded and often quite happily, because I really do want to know what on earth is wrong with me? That said, not many tests are particularly enjoyable. A colonoscopy has to be right up there with them.  The indignity of having a tube shoved up your bottom in a room full of people is nothing compared to the discomfort you feel when they start inflating your stomach with lots of air via that same tube. Good grief, it is an awful sensation, you feel like you are literally going to explode and just when you think you can stand it no longer it gets worse. You are suddenly extremely nauseous and there was a medical reason for that, but i was too busy concentrating on not being sick on the nice nurse’s shoes that I plum forgot to listen to the explanation. And don’t get me started on having an enema before hand……

Then there are the delightful pills known as picolax, which give your bowels a thorough clean out. One of the theories as to what was causing my problems was that I might have impacted fecal matter in my bowels – I do apologize for that last sentence I hope you are still with me …. Needless to say taking Picolax was an awful weekend. To take a pill that you know is going to give you a vile stomach upset takes a lot of courage. Taking another one 8 hours later when you are in the midst of it all is sheer madness. I got very ill and dehydrated and eventually when my vision started to blur I gave up and took co codamol to stop it. Then there was the mega antibiotic metronidazole, which made me feel as if I had terrible morning sickness for two weeks, but with no baby joy at the end. By contrast the CBT scan was a blast, the two month wait for the result not so much.

I could go on about the amount of treatments I have taken, but I think you get the message and you can now probably understand why I hate talking about IBS – nothing about it is pleasant! Yet talk about it I must because I hope if anyone else is in the same position as me, then they might find it helpful to read. If your bowels are in perfect health, then I apologise for what you have just read!

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I love blogging

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It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but I can now happily say that I love blogging. I have had a few teething problems and worried excessively about making some of my innermost thoughts public, but I’m now sure that it was all worth it. I know I’m several years late to the game, but who knew there was such a fantastic sense of community amongst bloggers? Obviously not this little Luddite, or I might have started sooner ….

I wasn’t even aware that there were blogging conferences and even blogging festivals and now I want to attend them all. Blogging has given me a voice and a chance to express myself, mostly without judgement. More importantly, it has given me a community of potential new friends to connect to. Every time I blog I gain some more followers and that makes me a very happy bunny. I have also had some wonderful comments made on my posts, which reminds me that I am not alone. When life occasionally hands me lemons, I have people ready with the proverbial Tequila!

Even when I published a post which barely made sense to me, losing my religion, I received two very helpful comments. Even though I had admitted, I wasn’t really sure whether I was coming or going, with the whole religion conundrum. (How can anyone miss, what they never really had?) Both commenters seemed to understand, exactly what I was getting at and offered me sympathy and understanding. Plus some great advice – exactly what I wanted from my post and my blog in general.

Then there are the lovely comments I get in private, inevitably life seldom turns out as expected and when things go wrong, its amazing to get such a show of support. These ones are mainly from family and friends; but when the going got tough for me, I certainly learnt who my friends were and how much I meant to them – thanks guys!

There is also something wonderful about blogging that I hadn’t been expecting – the support shown to newbie bloggers from the old hands. Everyone I have asked for advice, has been happy to help. None more so, than my lovely friend who blogs here. She’s the one who started me on my whole blogging journey and has patiently answered all of my inane questions, including ‘how do I use a hashtag on Twitter?’ We have made a pact to attend BritMums Live next year and I’m counting down the days already …. If you get the chance do read her blog, even if she wasn’t one of my dearest friends, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to you. She writes beautifully and inspires me with so many of her posts. I have been meaning to link to her blog for a while, but have only just learnt how to do so. I also now know what to do with a hashtag 😉

Help from complete strangers was unexpected. I was absolutely delighted to not only receive some much needed blogging tips from this blogger extraordinaire, but also a guest blog spot on her blog in March next year. A mere glance at her blog, shows what a busy lady she is, but she kindly took the time to respond to my email. Goodness only knows what I will write for my spot, but I have a good few months to worry about it, so big thanks to Victoria Welton who blogs here. She also runs the marvelous #pocolo linky every Friday, plus several others.

I love the like minded people that I meet through my blog or indeed through their blog. I have considered myself to be a feminist, from the moment I understood the meaning of the word. Well duh, I’m a girl therefore I’m a feminist, was my teen-aged self’s way of thinking and to be honest it still is. I love the strong undercurrent of feminism that runs through many of the blogs that I read and although I’m not sure I’m confident to blog about it just yet (need to read a few more books first) you can expect a post soon. I hadn’t expected blogging to inspire and motivate me to improve my education, I certainly underestimated the power of a great blog.

Blogging makes me feel better about myself and when I get the chance, I love clicking on the same tags that I have just used on my own post. It really does make life, just that little bit easier when you realise that you are not the only one suffering with a health complaint or from a loss of religion. Where else could you connect to fellow IBS sufferers of Mums who also have four boys and learn how to cope with life’s little/big curve balls?

There is a down side to social medial and I am mentally writing a post on that as I type, but I wanted this post to concentrate on the up side. I blog for fun, for answers, to participate in discussions, for advice, to vent, but also to make new friends. I wasn’t sure exactly what I would get from blogging and to be honest, I certainly wasn’t expecting much. Thank goodness I persevered because it really has had a positive impact on my life. I have learned so much about myself and about life in general, that I would recommend blogging to anyone

Finally a big thanks must go to my number one fan (ok, my only fan) who reads every single thing that I write and happily tells me it was amazing. I might test her one day and write something truly dire, just to see what she says. Then again she’d still support me, because she’s my sister and I’ve told her it’s her job, thanks sis!

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Feeling lucky

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Life hasn’t been easy of late, for too many reasons to list here, but I will mention the IBS and living with a lot of pain on a daily basis. IBS has such a huge impact on me and living with pain every single day of my life, for almost three years, has affected me in so many different ways. So much so, that I frequently have days where I feel like I literally can’t carry on, if something doesn’t drastically change with my health. Here’s the kicker, it won’t, at least not for the foreseeable future.

So I try to carry on as best as I know how, the pain can sometimes be held at bay with slow release morphine and the ‘oh my god please hurry up and work,’ liquid morphine. I try not to cry (well maybe a little,) when numerous social occasions are cancelled at the last moment and look on the bright side wherever possible. That isn’t always easy and my poor husband has a lot on his hands, when it all gets too much.

I do have good days emotionally and I am able to accept that this is my life for now, pain is a nasty accompaniment, but try as I might I can’t kick it out of my life. On top of, or perhaps because of this, I can be a bit of a ‘Neurotic Nancy,’ I’m a self confessed hypochondriac and prone to panic. I also have bouts of mild depression. I am however, extremely grateful that things aren’t worse, it isn’t bowel cancer or Chrohn’s Disease. I’m also beyond happy and relieved, that I am suffering and not one of my children. Feeling rather sorry for myself, a couple of days ago, I stumbled across this blog post. I felt very humbled to read of this lovely lady’s heart breaking experience and at the same time it reminded me to feel lucky. I might be struggling at the moment with my health, but on the plus side I do have many things in my life to feel lucky about. From my husband, children and family to diet coke. Well it’s my only vice now that the pain killers have seen off my wine habit.

Of course you always know in the back of your mind, that whatever you are going through personally, there will almost always be someone going through much worse. I don’t for one minute, advocate stopping feeling sad or angry because of your own problems. I’m a firm believer in letting those emotions out and dealing with them. It is still your life and you are perfectly entitled to those emotions. That said sometimes reading about someone else coping with their tragedy, can be an inspiration and a great help.

I still hate that I am in pain for several long hours a day, but I feel lucky it isn’t worse and reading a complete stranger’s blog has helped me feel much better about things. At least for a little while …

 

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To blog or not to blog? My first few months as a newbie blogger.

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So far my blogging ‘journey’ has been short and not always sweet. I started a few years ago, a rather half hearted attempt, that lasted only four posts. Rather stupidly I thought it would be a good idea to post every single day, but with four boys to look after, I was being over optimistic to say the least. I also panicked that I was being too honest and open, was I really ready for the whole world (or the few reading my blog) to know about my struggle with panic attacks? This time, I ummed and ahhed for a good few weeks, before I decided to express myself in such a public way.

Being 40 years and 15 months old I had just (!) missed out on being part of the social media generation and for a long while thought that even Facebook was a strange phenomenon. I firmly believed that texting/tweeting whilst in the company of others was bad manners and nothing else. I couldn’t, and still can’t if I’m honest, understand why people would go on a day trip or night out and then spend the entire time on their phones; telling everyone about it or taking photos to show them. Why not let everyone know you are going somewhere, then put your phone down, enjoy yourself and tell everyone about it afterwards? That’s living your life, surely?

So to this Luddite, the idea of baring my soul in such a public way, was an anathema. Then I decided to research it, so I read a few blogs and joined Twitter and slowly I began to think that it might be a good idea. I enjoy writing and I could see how much friends and other bloggers enjoyed the process. Why not give it a whirl? It could be honest, but not necessarily completely public or so I thought ….

If you have read my blog before, you will know that I hit a few snags almost immediately, it is very difficult to keep things private online, unless you remain completely anonymous. To a newbie blogger/technophobe it was a big shock how easily you can be found, despite your best efforts. Your blogging life and real life should sometimes be kept separate, particularly if you intend to be honest as people will interpret your honesty in very different ways. In fact you can be blogging about one thing in your head and viewers can read it as an entirely different thing. For example, when I blogged about my religious views, or lack of them, I was careful to point out that they were my views and not meant to hurt anyone. I had to learn my lesson first though, mere weeks after I began this blog, my blogging life collided with my real life, in ways I had not foreseen. There was fallout and that was that, I wanted nothing more to do with blogging.

It was something of a knee jerk reaction, but I couldn’t have known the impact it would have on me personally. In hindsight, perhaps it was bound to happen. I am slightly naive to say the least and I should have gone for complete anonymity, if I had wanted to write with absolute honesty. I’m also something of a daft bugger, for want of a better phrase and these sorts of things do keep happening to me. From the relatively minor getting my knickers stuck in my skirt, a sadly quite frequent occurrence, to inadvertently offending people and I could go on; but the misadventures of Naomi are perhaps best saved for another post ….

How could I carry on then? I wanted to blog honestly and most certainly didn’t want to upset anyone further. Did I really have any other option other than stopping? My next thought, was to do what I should have done and blog under a nom de plume and tell no one. Yet I worried this still wouldn’t be a safe environment. I thought I had done a relatively good job of keeping this one under wraps, how could I be sure I wouldn’t be found again?

As time went on, I thought I would just carry on blogging and try not to upset anyone again. It hasn’t been easy, once bitten, twice shy! Would I upset readers, if I blogged about my loss of faith in Christianity? If you upset, offend or even annoy people with your posts, they won’t keep reading. Why on earth would anyone waste their precious time reading about someone, that has either annoyed them or simply has a viewpoint that didn’t gel with their own?

If no one reads your blog, are you no longer blogging but simply talking to yourself? I tried not to worry excessively, at least if no one was reading, no one could be offended. So I wrote a few more careful posts. Then I hit a few more snags, probably the same ones that almost all new bloggers have…..

What on earth can I blog about today? I have nothing to say! I’m a stay at home Mum with a chronic stomach condition, I don’t get out much. Who on earth wants to listen to my rants about IBS or whether or not I should be taking morphine for my stomach pain. Does anyone really care that sometimes my life is an endless round of child care and cleaning my house?

Then there was the problem that rears it’s head for many bloggers, or writers in general. You have a great idea, but you have absolutely no idea how to write about it – writers block. I’m normally verbose to say the least, but I want to write well on this blog and I want it to attract at least a few readers. Preferably not just the odd insomniac, who finds my blog so boring, it is more effective at sending them off to sleep than an entire box of Ambien! (Please don’t actually compare the two.)

Next I worried that my blog was too diverse, will readers who enjoy my weight loss posts, be equally thrilled when I write about being a stay at home Mum? Do I have enough time to devote to being a proper blogger, when my children, husband, friends and trash TV addiction take up so much of my time? Then I took a deep breath, calmed my mind and it’s often ridiculous worries and thought ‘balls!’

Big round bouncing balls to all of this! Does it really matter? If I inadvertently upset readers, I can apologise, realise that I may have lost a reader or two, but I will be more careful next time. I can blog about religion and it might be my least read post, but it was read and it did help me address my own feelings on the subject.

I may never have many readers or win any prizes for blogging but I really am starting to enjoy blogging and it has opened my eyes to a whole new world. Something I will blog about in my next post, because at least for a few blissful days, I won’t be panicking about having nothing to blog about!

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Officially gluten free for nearly an entire day!

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Today I started my new gluten free diet, I have been resisting this for over two years. Mainly because I’m not sure that gluten is the cause of my problems. Also because it’s expensive, not to mention the fact that I have to cut out many of my favourite foods – no more fresh bread for me. Add in the fact that I have successfully maintained a four stone weight loss for eighteen months, instead of piling the weight back on as I usually do. Then perhaps you can understand my reluctance to change anything in my diet, lest I should start overeating again. I have also been tested for coeliacs disease three times  and each time it’s been a negative result.

So why on earth am I going gluten free? Well I have been suffering from chronic IBS for the last two and a half years and despite being tested for everything under the sun including a CT scan of my abdomen and the ever charming colonoscopy. Nothing has been found to be wrong with me except chronic IBS. In many ways I am so relieved, my heart goes out to the sufferers of Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis and I’m beyond grateful it isn’t Bowel Cancer. On the flip side I have long been hoping for a magic pill to cure me of all my symptoms. Particularly the appalling stomach cramps which are currently only manageable with tramadol, co codamol and morphine. Sadly there is no such cure heading in my direction and the fact that I have had to (temporarily I hope) give up my daily glass of wine has only added insult to injury. So perhaps giving up the gluten is long overdue?

This morning I made my first bowl of porridge that didn’t come in a sachet marked ‘for beginners’ and accidentally made twice as much as I needed. Who knew my measuring cup was so big? With my diet in mind I made myself leave half in the bowl and ran away to hide under my duvet, until it was too congealed for me to hoover up like the piggy I am.

Lunch was two ‘soft’ bread rolls from Marks and Spencers, I use the term soft very loosely, because although that was exactly what was stated on the packet, what I found inside were two solid frisbees that T would have loved to have taken to the park. In short they were inedible and it takes a lot for me to not eat food. To my joy Tyrrells crisps are gluten free but are not enough to satisfy the fat girl inside of me. In vain I searched my kitchen cupboards for something to eat, dried cereal? Nope, we have five different boxes and all contain gluten. I found a bag of assorted mint sweets, hooray they are just sugar right? Wrong again there is barley in there somewhere and that contains gluten too! I could go on but I won’t bore you with the list of foods that contained my new nemesis gluten. Finally I remembered the gluten free coconut macaroons I had bought and allowed myself half of one.

By this time I was grumpy and to add to my frustration I had remembered the two tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sat in my freezer. They have been happily sat there for nearly a month now, untroubled by me, but now they might be forbidden fruits, they were all I could think about. Sod it I thought, who says crisps, half a macaroon and ice cream aren’t a healthy balanced lunch? One quick Google later and hooray there are quite a few B and J’s ice cream flavours which are gluten free. Naturally the two different flavours in my freezer were not …..

On the bright side a lot of chocolate is gluten free and there is a chance that I will be gluten intolerant and cured of all my ailments because yipee, wine is gluten free. My fellow gluten free warriors I salute you and hopefully I won’t crumble when my husband eats the ice cream. Apparently he is nobly doing it for me, thus removing all of the temptations in our kitchen. I remain wholly unconvinced.