Sisley anorexic looking mannequin

This mannequin caught my eye last week, but not for any of the reasons that the fashion brand Sisley would have wanted. There was something very strange about it: those black leggings for starters seemed oddly inappropriate in the mid-August heat of Sorrento, Italy, where the very lightest of loose cottons are de rigeure. Still, […]

Siena Palio 2014, first trial race

Yesterday I stood in the shade and cried a little as I listened to men singing together in the street. I am on holiday in Siena with my son J, during the run-up to the Palio, an extraordinary bareback horse dash around the massive Piazza del Campo which takes place every 16th August, and has […]

South Downs Way

My son J and I are walking the length of the South Downs Way together, a distance of 100 miles or 161 kilometres, between Eastbourne and Winchester in the South of England. This journey travels the spine of the chalky Downs, sometimes following coastal paths, but mostly straying far inland. This post, on the theme […]

J on London Overground

This rather surly and uncommunicative young man is a far cry from the hyped seven year old who set out with me for three weeks in Croatia all those years ago. The eyes are the same, though his lashes and eyebrows have darkened and coarsened with puberty. Step to his side, and the streak of […]

Zigzag shadows

Zigzag is the theme of this week’s WordPress photo challenge, and there are many excellent examples here.

Surrey lavender fields

      Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram; The marigold that goes to bed wi’ th’ sun, That with him rises weeping; these are flow’rs Of middle summer, and I think they are given To men of middle age.   There is nothing …. and no, really I mean nothing….. that I would rather do […]

The island of Kastellorizo of Mais in Greece

One day last summer we took a boat from Kaş on the Turkish coast out to the Greek island of Kastellorizo (or Meis, its Turkish name), a few kilometres away. My father and son and I whiled away a few hours by the picturesque harbour, eating and drinking, and observing the quiet comings and goings […]

Emotion faces

It was nine months into the placement and the cracks were beginning to show. J had started his new school and was half way through Year 2. That was the year his teacher said he was ‘fizzing with anxiety’ and I was so immersed in it, I’m not sure I entirely understood what she meant. […]

Dinah Child and Isobel Child

I am my parents’ first child. I have been a mother for one sixth of my life. I have had 16 homes. I have worked in four countries and had 11 employers. I shared my birthday with my great Oncle Jacques. I think of my mother every day. My son is 15 and my father […]

J outside foster carers' home, July 2005

It was nine years ago today, on 6th July 2005, that I met my son for the first time. Confidential. Introductions. The new family will first meet the child/ren on 6th July 2005. The programme of introductions is laid out below. Planned date of placement: 23rd July 2005. Date and time: 6.7.05 1 pm Location: […]

Rocking chairs in Dallas

I flew from London to San Diego in California recently, and stopped off in Dallas airport en route. It came as quite a surprise to me as a Londoner to find rocking chairs in the departure lounge. The contrast between this very traditional form of seating, which in the UK we associate with old people […]

South Downs Way

Prompted by The Boy’s Behaviour‘s touching post on the same subject, I asked my son J what the word Forever meant to him. “I don’t know what you mean Mum. I’m tired for God’s sake”. I should have stopped there, but I was tired too, and prepared to take a risk for a shortcut to […]


Between a Potato and a Walrus

Post adoption support

Contact with the birth family…. Not an easy subject, but not exactly controversial in the UK at least, and Local Authorities routinely employ people specifically to handle arrangements for such contact. So how long should we reasonably expect to have to wait for the Local Authority to respond to a request to make contact with […]

St Cuthbert's Way

From upstairs, I can hear my neighbour’s 12 year old son swearing: F__k you! What the f__k! Bitch! It is 11 on a warm Saturday morning, and the windows are open. Fifteen year old J is here near me in the flat, on his computer, playing Realm of the Mad God, and killing unicorns in […]


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