You still have your father’s chess set. The rook is missing.
Does he miss it? Does he miss you?
The wooden pieces sit in your cupboard, unloved and seldom seen.
When things were good, you would often play together –
Though you never did quite manage to beat him.
In chess, as in life, he was always two steps ahead.
Ready to pull the rug out from under you and leave you vulnerable,
With nothing but pawns and crumbs of what little self-love
You had left, to defend you.
You used to say that one day you’d win,
But maybe winning, sometimes, means walking away.
Silence can sometimes be strength, and there is no shame in surrender,
If it is to protect your heart, as you would your Queen.
You still have your father’s chess set. The rook is missing.

Rook

If you clicked onto this post expecting a ranty essay discussing feminism, sexuality and traditional gender roles, then sorry – this isn’t going to deliver.

All of those things are, of course, important. But a) Love Actually is 15 years old, b) it’s Christmas, and c) it’s a joyful film that makes people happy.

Have another Baileys, stick a mince pie in your face, and carry on enjoying your day.

Merry Christmas. I hope you’re having a fabulous time.

If you are alone or struggling this Christmas, you can talk to Samaritans on 116 123.

I adore Lush products and I love Christmas, so naturally I was super excited to spend an evening in their Bournemouth store, checking out their seasonal range – and even having a go at making some myself!

I struggle a bit at events with a lot of people I don’t know, and I found this one, in particular, quite difficult. There were a lot of people packed into a fairly small space, and it was – as Lush stores often are – quite overwhelming, with the combination of strong smells and relentlessly cheery staff (as lovely as they are!).

We began the evening with an icebreaker, which was getting into pairs and giving each other arm massages. I was thankful to be paired up with Tara, who I both know well and feel comfortable with. Even so, I wasn’t expecting that level of physical contact, and it put me slightly on edge. I nervously swigged my Prosecco, which we were served in Lush’s classic black pots – a really cute touch.


I gradually eased into things, and enjoyed leisurely checking out all the new products.

We were given the chance to have a go at making our own bath bombs and fresh facial cleanser. I haven’t actually used my bath bomb yet, but it’s this one, and it’s so pretty!

The cleanser is called Bûche de Noël and features festive ingredients including cranberries and brandy. It even has little bits of gold leaf in, for an even more decadent treat. It smells absolutely wonderful and, let me tell you, makes my skin feel AMAZING.

The cleanser is wrapped in Nori seaweed sheets. So much fun to make!

I sampled and smelled loads of lovely products, and treated myself to some gorgeous things too. I bought my first Lush fragrance, the sweet and delicate Amelie Mae.

I love the subtle sweetness of this perfume, and the scent of almond oil transported me back to my recent, wonderful holiday in Greece.

I got myself a little bottle of Snow Fairy shower gel to use at Christmas, because I just love it.

I fell in love with Christingle, a limited edition body conditioner that feels so cooling on the skin, I just knew it would be perfect for days when I’m feeling hot and flustered (most of the time tbh!).

One thing I really like about Lush is the little sinks they have, where you can try the products on your skin. It was there that I enjoyed a really lovely arm massage from one of the members of staff. Again, I felt a little nervous at first, but it actually felt great.

“You have so many knots,” she exclaimed, as she rubbed firm but soothing circles in my skin. “Let’s get rid of some of that tension!”

All in all, it was a really lovely evening. I went in feeling tense and anxious, but left feeling pampered and refreshed.

A huge thank you to all the wonderful staff at Lush, who made me feel relaxed and at ease.

Some other products I loved

These are sort of hideous, but I love them!

How great is this packaging? Scent wise, would have gone for Vanillary.

Looks like cheese. Enough said.

These are just adorable!

As some of you may already know, I’m not a religious person. I’ve spoken about my beliefs (or lack thereof) in the past, and shared my experience of not being accepted as a result.

I’ve been interested in Humanism for a while now. Humanists believe in morality without the need for religion and, in their own words, aim to “create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail” – Humanists UK.

Doesn’t that mean that all atheists are humanists?

Not necessarily, no. The chances are that many atheists subscribe to a humanist way of life without realising it, but Humanism UK, as a charity, goes further than that. They campaign for a fairer society and for the voices of non-religious people to be valued as much as those who believe in God.

Why does Humanism appeal to me?

In a word, community. One thing I always envied about my church-going friends was that sense of community and support. I loved that they had a place they could go, where they could discuss their beliefs with like-minded people.

I signed up to join the Dorset Humanists when I came across their stand at Bournemouth Pride. I’ve since found out that they hold regular discussion groups, social events and even lectures from historians and scientists about the ways in which religion has impacted the world. It warmed me to see that this was a group of intelligent, curious people, who wanted to broaden their understanding of the world, engage in lively debate, and above all, practice kindness.

What Humanism isn’t:

  • A cult. Believe it or not, this has been suggested to me.
  • A “fingers up to religion”. That’s not the point of it at all. The way I see it, it’s an opportunity to meet people who share my beliefs, and explore the world in a way that’s meaningful to me.
  • Sad, empty or meaningless. I shouldn’t even have to defend this one, but contrary to what some people might think, meaning doesn’t only come from believing in God.

Other things you might not know about Humanism

One of the other things I quite like about Humanism is that it offers ways to celebrate important milestones in a deeply personal and meaningful way.

For example, Humanist celebrants can perform weddings and baby naming ceremonies. If Dave and I were to have children, I quite like the idea of having a little naming ceremony in our back garden. Humanists also have “guide parents” (in place of Godparents), which I think is a lovely idea.

I didn’t grow up with religion, but I was given the guidance I needed to become a good person. As a result, I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t necessarily need to play a part in a person’s “moral education”, so to speak. I like that Humanism nurtures the very best aspects of human nature, and encourages people to seek out happiness and fulfillment.

I’m not trying to throw anything in anyone’s face, or make a statement. All I want to do is explore the world in a way that makes sense to me.

Isn’t that all anyone wants?

 

The Bluewater Spa, part of Bournemouth’s 4-star Connaught Hotel, recently hosted a party to celebrate the launch of its Temple Spa product range.

The Connaught Hotel

Champagne

We were welcomed with a glass of Prosecco, and enjoyed a lovely evening of canapés, live music, and a tour of the gorgeous spa facilities.

Relaxation room

Can I move into this relaxation room please?!

One of the treatment rooms.

We were given samples of some of the Temple Spa products to try, and I’m in love – they feel wonderfully luxurious, and smell gorgeous. The spa itself it beautiful, and I’ve already bookmarked some pages of the brochure, which I’ve left out strategically for Dave to find before Christmas.

Thank you so much to the lovely staff at The Connaught, and Sunny Bird PR for inviting me – I will definitely be back!