I grew up in a house full of secrets, where conversations would end suddenly as I walked into the room and grown-ups would change the subject to things deemed more suitable for young ears.

Children know when adults are hiding things, even if they are too young to understand the complexities of relationships, so I developed a thirst for the “truth” of the matter.

That led me to my first career, as a national newspaper journalist, but I always had it in the back of my mind, that there was a story to be told about my own family’s secrets.

My earliest years were spent in the care of my maternal grandmother, Annie, who lived with her half-sister, my Great Aunt Elsie. They would tell me about the old days back in London, showing me pictures of my great gran Emma Chick and even my great-great gran, who worked as laundresses in the slums of Notting Hill and Acton, which was known as Soapsud Island, at the turn of the last century and the years between two world wars.

Researching All My Mother’s Secrets, I was horrified to learn about the squalor the laundresses worked in. Diseases such as TB and scarlet fever were a rife, hours were long for little pay and the conditions were squalid and dangerous, with floors awash with filthy water and scalds from searing hot irons just a part of everyday life. And the worst thing was, some of the laundry maids were just children - as young as 12; and that had included my Nan.

As I grew up, certain things were Just Not Talked About – such as what happened to my Nan’s father, Henry Austin, who she had been told, had “gone away to the First World War and never came back.”

I also learned that there had been a Great Uncle George, my gran’s brother, born in 1915, who died young, of tuberculosis. Great Aunty Elsie’s dad was a laundry hand, who Emma Chick had married as the First World War was drawing to a close but no-one spoke much about him either, other than to say he was a bit of a bad tempered bloke at times.

My Nan died when I was 12 and that sparked my mother’s interest in family history. This was in the 1980s, before the internet, and through her, I learned how to research births, marriages and deaths, on microfilm and from dusty old registers held in libraries and at the National Archives in Kew.

But try as we might, Henry Austin, who we knew had worked as a cabbie, driving a horse-drawn hansom cab around London’s bustling streets before the war, simply seemed to have disappeared into thin air.

It was after my mother’s untimely death from cancer that my Great Aunt Elsie let slip something which made me even more determined to put the pieces of the puzzle together. She believed that Great Uncle George’s father might not have been the mysterious Henry Austin but someone else, within the Austin family, who had lived with my great gran for a time, after he was widowed.

It inspired me to look again, with fresh eyes, and this time, I found Henry Austin had died, not in the Great War, but in 1906, when my gran was still a baby. So, Emma Chick had lied all along, but the question was: Why?

I won’t spoil the plot by revealing all the secrets just now, but I was able to find out who George’s father was and what had happened to him, after he went away to fight in the Great War. And in a sense, sadly, he never came back because he was such a changed man, so the story my Nan was told was partly true.

It’s easy to judge someone for lying to cover up a scandal but I believe Emma Chick did what she had to do to try to hold her family together, to avoid public shame, during the upheaval of the Great War. I am proud of her, and all the other laundresses, who toiled for such little reward, with the wellbeing of their children uppermost in their minds.

*ALL MY MOTHER’S SECRETS by Beezy Marsh is published by PanMacmillan on August 9th, priced £7.99. Available in ASDA, Waterstones, WH Smiths and good book shops as well as Amazon.

Sign up for all Beezy’s book news on and she is on Twitter and Instagram @beezymarsh and on Facebook @beezymarshauthor.




Mother's Day and a new book...

MOTHERHOOD: I live it and breathe it every day and let me tell you, it's nothing like the chocolates and flowers version peddled to us by the shops for Mother's Day.

Oh, no; it's messier, funnier, at times darker and - I would say - all the more beautiful for it.

The truth about my imperfect life as a mum to two wonderful and (still, even as teenage years approach, God help me) sleepwrecking little boys provided some of the inspiration for my romantic comedy Mr Make Believe and the hilarious antics of daydreaming mum Marnie, who finds marriage with kids is not working out as she planned. The book started life as Everymum, because so many mothers I knew could relate to the struggles of raising two kids and trying to juggle some semblance of a career, oh, and trying to have a meaningful conversation with their other half maybe once a year. Mothers know, the fight is real.

Would Marnie need flowers and a present from her children, on a Hallmark-appointed day, to know that she is loved and appreciated? Would she be upset to find that the kids have forgotten and her husband has too, and is frantically searching service stations up and down the M40 for the last remaining bunch of daffs as dawn breaks on Mothering Sunday? Surely, such things only happen in a fictional world, but, no, Marnie wouldn't mind because she knows, deep down, knee-deep down, in the dirty laundry pile, and her family loves her to bits. But she'd probably make a mental note of it for Father's Day in June...

In my writing, mothers are the glue which bind everything together. In my bestseller, Keeping My Sisters' Secrets, set in a 1930s London slum, the decisions made by the girls' mother Margaret, who is trying to survive an abusive relationship, impact on them and strengthen their bond. My next book, All My Mother's Secrets, due to be published by Panmacmillan in Summer 2018, delves much deeper into the role of the mother as a lynchpin in a working class family, and her choices, which have far reaching consequences for the next generation. I can't wait to share more news about it with you soon.


From Bestseller to Audiobook!

My best-seller, Keeping My Sisters' Secrets, is to be an audiobook and is due out in the spring.

I'm thrilled to announce that this week, I signed a deal leading audiobook publisher WF Howes to bring this moving story of three sisters growing up in 1930s and 1940s London to a wider audience.

A number of people had contacted me asking if Sisters could be an audiobook and it is brilliant to be able to reveal that it will! It will also be available as large print edition, from March 1st this year.

The audiobook will be available to buy as a CD and a download and it will be stocked in libraries too, which is great news.

And that's not all; I have also signed a deal with WF Howes to bring out my next two books as audiobooks. The first, a moving family drama, set in London between the two world wars, is due out in the summer, so watch this space!

My Christmas fireside reads

CHRISTMAS is such a cosy, book-by-the-fireside time of year that I love the notion of curling up with a really good read over the festive season. The reality, however, may be slightly different - once I've done all the Mum stuff.

I always feel that someone has pressed the fast forward button on December, and time races ahead, leaving me in a tangle of tinsel, school plays, unwritten Xmas cards, present wrapping, catching up with friends, picking up Lego, doing the laundry, buying the turkey... oh, you get the picture. But let's, for the moment, like Marnie Martin, the heroine of my romantic comedy novel, Mr Make Believe, imagine that life is perfect and I will glide serenely into the Christmas break. My children will make fun crafts together at the kitchen table and my house will be pristine but yet homely, with cashmere throws artfully arranged and cushions plumped and ready for guests to arrive. In the fading light of the winter's afternoon, I shall take a moment's repose and put my feet up in my beautifully appointed sitting room to calmly enjoy some of the literature I have been meaning to read all year. Well, I can dream...

1. Don't Tell Alfred  - Nancy Mitford (Penguin)

I love Nancy Mitford's wickedly funny sense of humour and I haven't read this book since I was a teenager, so I think it's probably about time I dived in again. It picks up the threads of the life of her heroine Fanny - from Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love  - who is now a plain, middle-aged housewife, married to Oxford don Alfred. But everything changes when he is appointed ambassador to Paris and she is catapulted into society as a hostess, while managing the antics of her four grown-up sons. Mitford was ahead of her time and her comic turn of phrase never fails to make me hoot with laughter.

2. Dreamstreets  - A Journey Through Britain's Village Utopias  - Jacqueline Yallop ( Vintage)

I'm really excited to get my teeth into this book about the "model" villages of the 18th and early 19th centuries; not the toy model sort of villages you might expect, but communities which were purpose-built by philanthropists, out of a dire need to provide decent housing for a workforce living in poverty.  This is Britain's hidden history. So much of the drama around my bestselling book Keeping My Sisters' Secrets involved the life of a 1930s London slum, it is really interesting to get down to the nitty-gritty of how social housing came about. Yallop gets right down to the bricks and mortar of everything from Arts and Crafts cottages to miners' terraces.

3. Crooked Daylight  - Helen Slavin ( Ipso Books)

Having been seduced by Slavin's avenging librarian in her thriller, The Stopping Place, I'm ready to enter the world of The Witch Ways with her first in the trilogy, Crooked Daylight. It features three sisters, an unconventional gran called Hettie and childhood visits to Cob Cottage, which are at odds with their mother's world of reason and logic. When they return to the cottage as adults after Hettie's death, they begin to understand that they are bound together by more than just shared memories. I love fairytales, folklore and magic and how it is at odds with our "modern" way of living, so I'm definitely making some space on the sofa for this book. Perfect for winter evenings after a bracing walk through the woods near me ( watching out for fairy toodstool rings, portents and so on  - I think my imagination could run riot).

4. The poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Penguin Classics)

I love poetry, always have, always will. It is my guilty secret and I'm often to be found snaffling my way through a book of verse. Tennyson is wonderful and my youngest has just learned The Charge of the Light Brigade at school, which brought his work to mind again. There is something inevitably tragic about The Lady of Shalott, weaving a way in her remote tower, under the threat of a curse if she leaves. It's all going well until Lancelot comes clip-clopping by on his fine steed. She sees the beautiful curls on his head, his shining armour and she declares herself to be "half sick of shadows". I just want to yell, "For God's sake, don't do it." But like all romantic heroines, she does and she dies tragically, inevitably. I bear Lancelot in mind a lot when I am writing the bad boys in my books. He provides endless inspiration, especially because she has sacrificed herself for him and all he can do is muse "She has a lovely face." The swine.

Happy Christmas!




Sitting on the sidelines of a Saturday morning karate class, watching my sons having the time of their lives learning to kick and punch, joining in was the last thing on my mind.

As a mum of young boys, who seemed to have limitless energy, I was grateful for the rest, to be honest. But when the Sensei  - a superfit woman who was older than me - asked me why I wasn't giving it a go, I couldn't think of a good enough reason to stay in my seat.

I was fairly fit, having done Pilates and swimming for years, and the odd Zumba class, but martial arts? The idea of me - a mum in her forties, standing just over 5 feet tall - learning to karate kick and chop like Jackie Chan, was as my husband later admitted, rather hilarious.

Yet the following week, I found myself stumbling my way through my first kata - a series of moves, designed to hone specific karate techniques.

My entry into the world of karate coincided with me getting a literary agent for my first novel. I started writing after years of working as a journalist. Anyone who has been published will tell you, getting there is a long, hard slog filled with rejection and I'm no exception to this rule. I made a kind of bet with myself; could I get my first book published by the time I reached black belt level in karate?

At times I felt like giving up writing and on those occasions, having something else to focus on really helped. Months would pass as my book went off to publishers and there would be yet another round of "no thanks" letters. Karate taught me to have patience and I found that the criticism I got from editors was really useful to improve my writing. I opened my mind to learning  - just as I did in karate.

There were times when I would be really frustrated in karate, that I wasn't flexible enough or strong enough or I couldn't get a technique right but I kept working at it, training three hours a week. I applied the same persistence to my writing. I took the best character from my first book idea and I gave her a storyline all of her own. That book became the romantic comedy about motherhood, Mr Make Believe.

In the meantime, another opportunity came up  - to interview an ageing gangster and his family for a biography about their life of crime. This wasn't something I thought I would ever do but I took the chance and got a publishing deal with Panmacmillan. It was a completely different style of writing for me and a really big project - which was rather scary. Karate gave me the courage to face my fears and write the book. Coincidentally, around the same time, I got my black belt.

So, I actually achieved my karate dream before my first book was published in 2016 in the end but by then I was enjoying the journey. Five years earlier, when I started out, both of those goals seemed little more than a distant dream.

The best bit was that Mr Make Believe was picked up by Ipso Books and was published this year, becoming an Amazon Kindle top ten bestseller. Another book I wrote for Panmacmillan, Keeping My Sisters' Secrets, is now an international #1 bestseller, as well as appearing in the Sunday Times top ten paperbacks' chart, and it is still topping the Kindle charts in several categories. I have recently signed a two-book deal with Panmacmillan and my next book is due to be published in the summer of 2018. I also have another romance for Ipso Books up my sleeve, a comedy called Ten Easy Steps to I Love You, so watch this space.


Hot on the heels of the success of Keeping My Sisters' Secrets, I'm so delighted to announce I will be doing TWO new books for Panmacmillan in the very near future!

I'm already busy writing the first, which is due to be published in August 2018.

I will be returning to the turbulent years between the wars in London, but this time with a different family, telling the moving and true story of lost love, motherhood and survival. I'm already knee-deep in historical research, which I find so fascinating, to help bring a bygone era to life.

The real-life dramas of a world with no NHS, no welfare state and only community to keep things together when times are tough will provide a brilliant backdrop to this gritty story. I can't wait to tell you more, but for now I have got a book to write, so I will keep you posted.


This post was previously published on The Motherload on September 13, 2017.

Part of the joy of the kids getting a bit bigger, is the possibility of playing games as a family. Yes, board games, card games, things which don’t involve an iPad or a computer screen– hurrah!

Playing games– that is kids stuff, isn’t it? The easy part, the bit where we pretend we are living in a Boden catalogue and I don’t need half a bottle of wine just to relax.

But what if you have a child who prefers to play alone? Someone who won’t do board games, who runs a mile from a pack of cards on holidays or who just wants to be in their own little world?

One of the most amazing things about being a parent is how it takes all your expectations of what family life will be like, screws them up into a little ball, and chucks them right out of the window.

Having a child with dyslexia is a real education in game playing and what makes things fun; things I have taken for granted all my life, such as reading the board game instructions or quickly sifting through the numbers on a pack of cards to win a trick, were all complete turn-offs to my son. In fact, it became clear quite early on in his childhood, that he preferred to watch from the side-lines whenever board games came out. Sometimes he’d run away or throw a strop, but more often than not, he’d just quietly remove himself to his bedroom and get his Lego out.

It was only when we got a diagnosis of dyslexia at the age of eight that things became clear. It was really scary for him to be faced with lots of text on cards or to have to play games in which he’d have to read independently and he had worked out his own sophisticated avoidance tactics. He already felt a “failure” at school at this point because he couldn’t read as well as the other kids and so he didn’t want to feel that way at home.

This was confusing to his little brother, who was desperate to play and wanted his big brother to join in and for a while, used to get upset and frustrated too, so we had to explain why his brother liked to play in a different way.

As parents, we respected the fact that our dyslexic son was afraid and so we tried to find games which were “safer” for him and tried not to make a big fuss if he said no. The picture game Dobble is an absolute godsend to any parent with a dyslexic child– heaps of fun and lots of picture recognition which allows the whole family to have fun. The Warhammer game  – with loads of little figures for them to paint– is brilliant for kids aged about ten and above, although it does have lots of rules to read, the desire to have an army to fight with seemed to spur him on (plus my other half likes playing that one with both boys).

This summer, for the first time, he has wanted to learn how to play some card games and we sat down as a family on holiday and played together. Seeing his face light up when he understood the rules and worked it out on his own was one of the biggest highlights of the summer for me. Although I played cards with my parents until I was bored to tears on holiday, I will never take having fun as a family for granted with my children because I know what it is like to have a child turn around and say: “I’m not playing with you!”


So, the beginning of September is upon us, and the gleeful whoops of children bouncing on trampolines in back gardens the length and breadth of Britain every hour of the day will soon be a distant memory.

But wait, there is another sound which fills the air. Well, two different sounds actually; one sounds a bit like hysterical laughter and the other is the sound of mums sniffling into hankies while simultaneously taking photos of their children at the front door wearing school uniforms.

Yes, schools are once again open for business and thank the good Lord for that.

Am I being too cynical? Well, I am a battle hardened Back to School Mum, one of the near-hysterical laughter brigade, so I can't apologise for feeling something approaching delight when the bell rings for the first day back. In fact, to prove my point that the holidays are well and truly OV-AH, this very morning, my youngest smacked my eldest in the eye with a tennis ball in an unprovoked attack. Yesterday my eldest tried to squish my youngest under a pile of cushions. The space hopper in the garden is now a near lethal weapon known as "Mr Slappy" and whichever child gets it first can be relied upon to whack the other around the head with it.  It's not a lack of discipline in the home, it's just a result of them being here too flaming long.

And it is not as if I haven't taken them out and done stuff over the hols, if you please. I actually learned to play basketball this summer.

Basketball. So don't tell me they haven't had a fantastic summer because they have. Anyway, all this brings me on to the chasm between Back To School Mum and First Day of School Mum, with a large pinch of salt.


1. The school uniform:

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL has been planning the uniform for months, possibly since last Christmas. Everything has been pre-ordered, washed, lovingly ironed, tried on, hung in the wardrobe, taken out and tried on again in front of the grandparents. The shoes were a difficult choice, as they are to take the little one into the classroom for the very first time, but after tours of every shoe shop in town, plus a trip to a major shopping centre, a selection was made, but only after full discussion with other mums,  online and in real life.

BACK TO SCHOOL Uniform. Christ! Where is it? Probably at the bottom of a laundry basket or under a bed somewhere, in fact, wherever it was chucked back in July. OK, so, there are a few stains but there's no time to wash it now. Just a quick iron, no-one will notice. Yes, the trousers are a bit small but I will order some online and they will be here by the end of the week. Shoes- half a size too small, ditto. Sports kit... are you actually doing any sport this week? And so on...


2. Photographic opportunities and social media coverage

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL stages the photo of little one smiling at the front door, bag over shoulder, the day before just to get the right shot, best lighting angle etc. This gives time for the correct filters to be sorted. The school gates are full to brimming with mums capturing the big moment on their iPhones so people keep bumping in to each other.

BACK TO SCHOOL takes a picture of the bottle of gin she will consume in celebration at getting the kids off her hands at last. Yogamums and Pilates lovers will of course instagram themselves in a variety of bendy poses, apologising to their followers for the six weeks' absence and which they have filled with a few shots of sunsets at Ibiza or Cornwall, when the kids didn't get in the way of course.


3. School dinners

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL has prepared an organic packed lunch which would make Gwyneth Paltrow proud but by 11am is rather anxious about whether her little one will actually eat any of it so will fight the urge to casually stroll past the school gates to check if their child is looking hungry. If the meals are provided by the school, she will have vetted that menu and satisfied herself that there is something her child will find acceptable.

BACK TO SCHOOL If only the headmistress wouldn't make such a fuss, honestly. It's like having Jamie Oliver in charge. What is wrong with a bag of crisps and a chocolate bar? She will chuck in an apple if there is one loitering in the fruit bowl. In any case, it's not oven chips on the menu again at home. Yippee!


4. Home time

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL will nervously chat to some of the other new mums at the school gates, as hierarchies are established and coffee mornings organised. All the chatter will stop as the little ones spill out into the playground for pick up, clutching a drawing and wearing a badge to show they have had a great day. The little one's creation will be treated with great reverence, like the discovery of a hitherto unseen Van Gogh, and proudly displayed on the kitchen wall, photographed, instagrammed, Facebooked etc.

BACK TO SCHOOL will dash into the playground ten minutes late, slurping the last of her complimentary latte, and praying that her nails won't smudge. It was just such bliss to have time for a mani/pedi. She will already have caught up with her real friends but will air kiss a few other school gate mavens and give others a wide berth as she pats her offspring on the head and scrumples his arty offering into her handbag.

She will traipse off to the park with a few mums, keen to snatch a few last rays of late afternoon sun and hear all the gossip, in the hope that her kids will have worn themselves out before tea and it won't be blue murder at bed time.


And repeat to fade until the Christmas holidays...

The Home Truths Behind 'Keeping My Sisters' Secrets'

It's brilliant to see Keeping My Sisters' Secrets in the best sellers' charts in Canada, prior to its release here next week (July 27th).

The memoir, which recounts the lives of three sisters born into poverty in London's slums, reveals how one family fought for its survival. It allowed me to dig deep into family relationships, which are the inspiration for all my writing.

The 1930s  was a time of huge social and political change, as the Second World War loomed on the horizon.

Peggy, Kathleen and Eva grew up in the crime-ridden slums of Waterloo, struggling not only against grinding poverty but the ever-present threat of violence from their father.

Their story centres on the unshakeable bond of sisterhood, as they support each other through thick and thin. Bringing the streets of Lambeth to life in the book sparked some fascinating research into how poor, working class women lived in the decades between the wars, surviving without many of the things we take for granted, such as the NHS and social care.

The community could rally round in times of dire need or ostracise people it felt had transgressed, with reputations created or destroyed by street gossip. The daily battle against the filth of the factories and the smogs of London, in homes without electricity or hot water meant that a woman's work really never was done - yet the front step had to be sparkling and the man's shirts neatly pressed or the neighbours would talk.

Eva, the feisty youngest sister, starts out stealing to help feed the family, after witnessing her mother suffering yet another beating when the housekeeping runs short, but finds herself drawn into the dangerous but glamorous world of the Forty Thieves shoplifting gang, which pillage many a West End department store.

Peggy, the studious eldest sister is so appalled by the conditions endured by women around her, in factories and in the home, that she becomes a Communist and is increasingly involved in the fight against Oswald Mosley and his fascist Blackshirts.

Kathleen, the middle child, is the most beautiful and dreams of being a star in the theatres across the River Thames but finds her spirit crushed first by the daily grind of life in the jam factory and then by the handsome boxer she wrongly believes will be a loving husband.

Seeing how Peggy, Kathleen and Eva coped during the war, facing up to the choices they made in the past and fearing for their futures, really brought home to me that love is the one constant in an ever-changing world.

Keeping My Sister's Secrets is due to be published in paperback by PanMacmillan on July 27th and is available for pre-order now.


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“Mu-um, I’m not wearing them, they make me look like a total dork!”

The new shorts I had bought him, from a – rather expensive – online retailer, which has perfect images of smiley kids doing fun stuff (OK, it was Boden), were thrown on the bedroom floor in disgust.

I almost wept. Had it come to this? And so soon! He was not even a teenager yet, for God’s sake, yet here he was having a full-on fashion crisis.

Mothers of girls would probably be used to this stroppy pre-teen behaviour, refusing to wear what their parents had chosen, I reasoned, but as a mother of boys, this was new to me.

I felt a bit rejected, to be honest.

Until now, my eldest had shown little interest in clothes, beyond getting up and pulling on something or other in the morning, not always clean, so that he could either build something out of Lego, paint a model figure, bounce on the trampoline, shoot Nerf bullets at his kid brother or slump in front of a computer game.

But now, blushing slightly and stumbling for the right words, he was telling me in no uncertain terms that my fashion choices would no longer do.

Apart from the practicalities of having spent the best part of twenty quid on a pair of shorts– I know, I know, but they looked SO nice– I could see where he was coming from. I was transported back more decades more than I care to remember to my 12th year, when my Mum gave me twenty quid and let me loose in Topshop for the first time. The thrill of it! Choosing T-shirts for myself, things I wanted to wear, that my mates were wearing too.

Then I remembered the time before he was born, all the excitement of choosing his babygros and little outfits for him, the PFB– the precious first born – washing them, ironing them and keeping them in a drawer in the bedroom, ready for his arrival, sneaking a peek and holding them up and imagining him in them.

Once he arrived, of course, all the delightful little pristine white suits were spattered with baby gunk and I was so knackered I couldn’t have cared less what he was dressed in, as long as I got some sleep.

But then came the thrill of seeing him going up sizes– you know, the bit when they go from newborn, to the next size up; one to three months, to six months and all that. The little funky outfits, the sunhats which you force them to wear for about three seconds before they chuck them out of the pram; the baby shoes, the first walkers, the first trainers. Crocs; so many pairs, in different colours each year and going up a size each time.

School shoes – trashed within an inch of their life by the end of the first week.

Wellies, splodging in puddles and stuck in the mud. Coats– lost, mostly, at school.

I remembered a whole childhood of clothes I had chosen for him but now it was time for him to start choosing his own.

We reached an agreement of sorts. He could buy some new stuff but he would still have to wear those dorky shorts at some point and he would have to finish his homework and maybe do a few chores, like feed his guinea pigs and help out around the house.

So he went online and picked out a couple of T-shirts and I found myself getting emotional, not least because the first thing he bought was made of polyester with a massive logo on it and was covered in camouflage.

I think I may have a teenager in the house sooner than I had imagined…

'Mr Make Believe' Launch Party Antics

Was I dreaming? Was it just make believe or was I really in a West End restaurant in my best party frock and Jimmy Choos, doing a full-on karate routine with the senseis from Kilburn Shotokan Karate Club at my book launch? As Marnie Martin would say, erm, well, yes, actually...

Mr Make Believe got off to a flying start  - and thankfully no-one twisted their ankle  - at a party at Polpo, in which the world of media, fashion, film, television, mum-bloggers, publishing and karate collided over prosecco and pizza.

It was fabulous to see so many friendly faces there, getting into the party mood and I signed a few books too.

Lots of people bought copies to take away on  holiday with them, on the back of fabulous reviews from The Sun, which called Mr Make Believe "a fun read that 'imperfect mums' everywhere will adore" and The Daily Mail which praised it as a "warm, witty and well-written novel" which is

"compulsively readable and entertaining". Wow!

And as these pictures show, Mr Make Believe has already jetted off to glam locations including - Antigua, Italy and ...the New Forest.

I'd love to see where you take Mr Make Believe. Why not post your #sunloungerselfie on Twitter?

Happy holidays!

Beezy x


The sun is out, it's a beautiful morning, so what could be more natural than going for a walk with your family?

A nice walk. What a great idea!

Let's suppose, for a moment, you are beyond the baby and toddler stage because there simply wouldn't be enough space here to deal with the getting ready process. Yup, been there, done that: the failed attempts to leave the house, the tantrums, the sheer exhaustion of it. And that was just trying to get my husband off the sofa, where he was having a sneaky snooze.

So, back to our lovely stroll. Both children are now old enough to dress themselves (in theory at least). I say in theory because it is now half past ten and they are still in their onesies playing on the PlayStation. So, hey, kids! Let's go and get some fresh air! The silence that greets my request tells me I am being ignored, as usual, but I won't be put off, so they stomp upstairs to put some clothes on.

As the minutes tick by I ponder our current situation.

Luckily, we have countryside right on our doorsteps as we now live in the middle of nowhere, so that is a bonus. If we were in London we'd be sitting in traffic for an hour trying to go anywhere on this glorious morning, only to find there were no parking spaces when we arrived because everyone had had the same idea about getting out.

Two boys go into their bedrooms to get dressed but are replaced with a monster known as The Incredible Sulk.

"Why?" wails The Incredible Sulk. "Why do we have to go out?"

Sadly, my two horrors' only interest appears to be a trip to the cinema/ a fast food restaurant or, possibly, both.

A deal is struck. We can go to the cinema tomorrow but only if we get "fresh air" today.

"I hate fresh air!" mutters the eldest, as he pulls on his walking boots. "It stinks."

Meanwhile the youngest is having an epic battle, trying to get his foot into his boot. Has he grown that much since the last time we went for a family walk, oh, about a year ago? Suddenly I flash back to last summer, when we got chased across a field by some bulls. That was quite traumatic.

"Will there be bulls today?" says the eldest, with a worried look in his eye.

Husband is dressed and standing outside, boots on, tapping his watch. He is ready, so why isn't everyone else?

We set off down the lane and head towards the canal, with the children whingeing all the while. Well, this is lovely, isn't it? To liven things up, I bring along a birdwatching book. We usually have quite a lot of wildlife nearby but on this occasion we see a duck. One measly mallard. I treat its arrival with as much jubilation as the discovery of a dodo but to no avail.

"Can we go home yet?"/ "My legs are tired..."

And so on. So there you have it. What a nice family walk we had.


It's the school cake sale tomorrow!

These are the words which can strike fear into the heart of many mothers, if we are truthful.

I live in fear of the bake sale because, let's face it, I am rubbish at baking. There, said it. It feels good to get that off my chest.

My sponges are never quite light enough, my flans have a soggy bottom and

my kids even admitted they only ate my cupcakes "because they felt sorry for them".

I envy those mothers who turn up at the school, laden with gorgeous, home-baked goodies. Mine also look good these days, but only because I bought them in Waitrose or Tesco's and distressed them with a fork to give them that "home-baked" appearance.

Mums seem to be divided into three groups on the baking front - the sad and pathetic no-bakers (like me), who shuffle in apologetically, trying to hide the wrapping and pass off shop bought as one of their own. Then there are the "I simply haven't got time" brigade, who stride in with a tray load of cupcakes from the local bakery, with a glint in their eye that says "just don't you dare challenge me on this, I have a board meeting at 8.30am".

And lastly, there are the home bakers, who sally forth with their baking tins stuffed to the brim with delights, wafting delicious scents of scones and biscuits in their wake. They stand proudly at the cake stall, often wearing aprons, dishing up their fare to eager children, wreathed in smiles, and safe in the knowledge that their cakes are all home made - and they taste good!

The first time I helped out on a cake stall it got a bit embarrassing as I was trying to foist my Smartie cakes on an unsuspecting youngster who really didn't want them.

I learned from that mistake, hence the bakery-fakery.

So, baking mums, I salute you but I am not one of you. Now, I'm sure there must be something in the kitchen I'm good at. Ah, yes. It's the washing up...


Well, I'm thrilled to announce that Mr Make Believe is finally here!

I fought my way through a pile of laundry and two school runs to write this and I expect you did the same to read it.
I'm so excited to share my debut novel about the adventures of imperfect, blogging mother Marnie Martin and her search for Mr Make Believe. If you can wrestle the iPad or Kindle off the kids for five minutes, you can download it as an ebook, or you can just click on the link and order it from Amazon as a paperback. It doubles as a handy rest for a gin and tonic of an evening in that format, I find.
Getting the time to read isn't easy, I know. I often start a game of hide and seek with the kids and lock myself in the bathroom to grab a few moments me-time. It works, trust me.
Anyway, I really hope you enjoy reading about Marnie and her exploits, through motherhood, marriage and the mayhem of raising kids, while she struggles to work out whether true love is real or just make believe. You can have a sneak peek at the prologue, here

If you enjoy my book, I'd be so thrilled if you would give it an honest review on Amazon too.
Meanwhile, there will be plenty more to look forward to from Marnie Martin and her best mate Belle Devine over the coming months, with a prequel in production for starters which you'll be the first to hear about.


A great deal of my childhood was spent up a tree in the back garden, just pilfering bits of fruit. I felt like the king of the castle up that tree, surveying the neighbour's cat and my mum hard at work digging her vegetable patch and tending the garden.

I didn't tend to go to the park but had the run of the streets around my home and would zoom up and down on my bike when I felt like it. From the age of 12 I was allowed "down the town" - a short stroll down our street, usually with my best friend from next door, to mooch about the shopping centre on a Saturday morning, with the other kids.

My eldest is now 12 and it would be unthinkable for me to tell him to just go off on his own in a shopping centre or "go out to play" in the street.

He grew up in London, where the neighbours were lovely, but we kept the front door locked and his trips to the park always included me or my other half. My kids never played out in the street because of traffic and also concern about "stranger danger"  - real or imaginary, but I wouldn't have felt happy with them out there alone.

Now we live in the countryside, my son could have more freedom to roam but is reluctant to do so without parental supervision. Instead, he bounces himself silly on the trampoline in the back garden or shoots nerf guns at his brother all over the house. We organise play dates with other kids but there is always a parent present. I don't think I'm unusual as a parent to keep my children close to me, safe at home, or within my earshot, even though one is just secondary school age and the other is ten.

My other son goes out around the village on his bike but I always keep a watchful eye and he rarely strays for long. They are both more comfortable with one or other of us parents around, because that is how they have been raised.

When we go to the park, I still go with them because they like it that way.

So, I couldn't help wondering, at what point will my kids have a childhood like mine?

When will they be old enough in my eyes and confident enough in themselves to want to go off into town for a while and wander around the shops? When will they want to go off exploring on their own? I don't know the answer. I think I may have raised them never want to strike out on their own.

On the one hand, I'm afraid of letting go in case something bad happens, some accident or some stranger danger which I could never forgive myself for but on the other, I worry they are not getting enough independence.

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that I get to hang out with my boys.  I love going to the park with them and mucking about. We like going swimming together and they have learned to ride horses so that we can all go out on hacks around the fields and woods near our home together or practise jumps in the school.

But are they missing out on being independent and at what point should I step back and allow them to have greater freedom?

Perhaps the world has changed so much that they will stay by my side until they are strapping big lads of 15 or 16 and then just go off with their mates, overnight; just disappear and leave me to pick up the laundry in their bedrooms.

Will they look back and complain that I didn't cut the apron strings sooner?

At which point I will once again find a nice tree, climb it and watch the world go by...

Floral print.jpg


Lying in a hospital bed after the birth of my second son, with a catheter still in place, I waited for my next shot of morphine to kill the searing pain from a planned C-section for life-threatening complications of pregnancy and the surgical removal of a massive fibroid.

This was not how it was supposed to go in the birth plan. I almost wept.

My baby had been delivered safely after five agonising weeks living on a labour ward because of a condition called placenta praevia, which meant that I was at risk of a massive haemorrhage at any point. I had already suffered some pretty scary bleeds, as the placenta ripped away from the lining of my womb, endangering the life of my unborn child - and me.

Bed rest and sheer good luck had got me to 37 weeks.

On the day of the planned C-section I nearly fainted as a walked in to the operating theatre and saw that the doctors were all wearing wellies - and I had visions of my blood gushing all over the floor.  Some nurses and doctors asked if they could come along to watch as it was such a risky procedure and they might not get to see another one for a while, which didn't exactly fill me with confidence.

But the NHS was brilliant and it saved my baby and me.

The consultant also carried out a myomectomy  - a surgical removal of a fibroid, which would have got in the way while he stitched me back together again. My husband told me that I was unconscious for a full hour as the doctor sewed layer after layer of me back together, while he held our screaming new-born. The pain that the myomectomy caused on top of C-section was indescribable. So, I couldn't even lift my little baby and although the staff on the postnatal ward did their best, I had to laugh when the occupational therapist came around to advise me on the need to do sit-ups to recover my stomach muscles.

Well, to be honest, I would have laughed but that would have hurt too much.

I could barely walk, I couldn't bend down and was terrified of going to the loo in case my guts dropped out.

Fast forward five years, that same baby had me up at a karate class, punching and kicking my way across the room with him.  Four years after that, just after his ninth birthday, we both graded for our black belts.

I was 39 when I had him and if you had told me, as I lay in bed in the days following his birth, that by my late forties, I would have two kids and be a black belt, I would have laughed in your face.

That said, the road to regaining my strength was a long and hard one. I had always liked Pilates but 12 weeks after my C-section, I took it up again, slowly and steadily, working through the pain caused by scar tissue internally from the operation, willing my abdominal muscles to knit back together. I swam every week - even when I was dog tired, just twenty minutes of gentle swimming. I walked and ran about with my children, who ran me ragged, obviously because that is what kids do.

When it came to the karate, I was sitting on the sidelines watching when the sensei, a woman in her fifties who looked amazing, told me to get up and give it a try.

"Go on," she said. "You can do it."

I found that I could not only do it, but I enjoyed learning the techniques, of pushing myself that bit further, of engaging my mind as well as my body in an activity which was not something I was 'supposed' to do as a woman over 40. Karate was for sweaty blokes, wasn't it? Surely it was dangerous and violent? I'm rather petite, at only 5ft 2, so what could I do to defend myself? Quite a lot, as it happens...

For some of us childbirth can be physically very traumatic and it does take time to heal - which is hard when you are also raising little people. But one thing I have learned is that it is not only possible to rehabilitate after childbirth but to emerge stronger, fitter and healthier. It takes time and effort and patience with yourself but it is worth remembering when you are in the early weeks after birth and things may seem bleak.

I saw an advert recently for women in sport - #thisgirlcan. Well, I think there should be a hashtag for motherhood...



My second baby will reach double digits soon. How did that happen?

Note, I still call him a baby, even though he can ride a bike, jump a horse and do karate kicks like Bruce Lee.

I was still in the grip of precious first born (PFB) mania when I got pregnant with my second.

I was thrilled but also worried  - would I love him as much as my first?

There is this little diary for the PFB in which I detailed what he liked to eat at various stages, when he first walked, what his first words were... you get the picture. I proudly took photographs of his earliest months and stuck them in a beautiful little album and then sent copies of his sweetest ones to the relatives.

I had every intention of doing the same for my second, of course, but the pregnancy didn't quite go to plan. I should have known then that this was just life getting me ready for what happens when you have two little people.

But in my head, I still stuck to the fantasy of how it would all run smoothly  - even though I spent five weeks in hospital before the birth, due to serious complications.

Luckily, he was safely delivered but with a toddler and a baby - who threw up most of his feeds  -

I began to understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture.

To my shame, there is no special little photo album for baby number two or diary detailing his every waking moment (and believe me, there were a lot of those). I was too busy trying to wipe sick off the carpet, yoghurt from my hair and gulping down double strength lattes to get through the day.

With two kids, when things go well, it is twice as much fun and when they go wrong it is double trouble. Chickenpox was like a relay of itching and scratching and once when they got a sickness bug from the pick and mix at the cinema, I ran out of clean bedsheets as they threw up on everything in unison.

Anyone who has been there knows motherhood with young kids is a bit like being on a rollercoaster  - the most fun but also the most scary at times and you can't get off that easily. There were such highs and lows, I even used some of my own experiences as inspiration for the main character in my book Mr Make Believe, about an imperfect mother, which is out soon.

But despite all the tiredness, the broken nights and the tantrums, my biggest worry - about not loving him as much as baby number one - was never realised. Somehow, through it all, there was more than enough love for both of them. And that is the most amazing thing about being a parent.

Your energy runs out but your love doesn't.

Beezy boys dressing up as robin hood


So, Christmas has left the building and you (hopefully) survived the joy and tantrums and the total exhaustion of having the kids off school for weeks.

Now you are probably setting yourself some goals for the coming year. If you are anything like me, this will involve ways of being a "better" parent, of running a more harmonious home and generally having a brilliant time with your kids.

Here are a few of my favourite New Year resolutions, which really are fantasies. I really should know better by now but I just can't help myself. Sorry. So, the harsh reality follows after.

1. Food. It will be healthy, home-cooked, lovingly prepared and organic. The children will devour it gratefully but with impeccable manners. We will find time for some interesting conversation and I will be astounded by their growing knowledge, while they will be amazed by my culinary skills.

It will be home-cooked on the first day- when I will slave over a hot stove all afternoon, ending up rather flustered- but by Wednesday I will be reaching for the oven chips and Friday will see the me dialling for a take-out pizza. They will eat with their fingers, smothering everything in ketchup and the youngest will spit out his "healthy" vegetables on the floor. Eldest will sneak an iPod to the table and they will both collapse in fits of laughter at the world's silliest videos, as I lose my temper with them both.

2. The school run. I will make a real effort to be smart - maybe a dress and boots for a change. I will get up in time to apply a bit of make-up, to show off how proud I am to be a mother and also to look presentable if I go on for a coffee with the other mums or if I stop to chat to a teacher or even the headmaster. Breakfast will be nourishing and the kids will brush their teeth without being asked, before we have a lovely drive to school, singing together and perhaps discussing what the coming day will bring.

Oh, crikey! Is that the time? I fling some sugary cereal into two bowls and then run around like a mad thing trying to locate youngest son's school tie and/or homework. Eldest pretends to brush teeth and then sulks when I catch him out.

No-one brushes their hair, not even me. Look at the time! Go! Go!

Get in the car. De-icer required, which means we lose vital minutes. Looking down, I realise I am still wearing pyjama bottoms. Too late to worry about that now. Set off down the road and then turn back as eldest has forgotten his pencil case. Tell off both kids, who are now arguing in the back. Turn on radio but then turn off due to inappropriate rap song lyrics about the size of some woman's backside. Arrive at school, with seconds to spare. Can't get out of car to say "hello" to anyone in current state. Seriously consider wearing dark glasses and pretending I'm a new nanny or something before driving off, quite quickly.

3. Running the home. Children will tidy their own rooms and clear away their toys when required. Dirty laundry will be placed in the basket in the bathroom. Coats and shoes will go in their proper place. The bathroom will not smell like a public urinal because no child will pee on the floor.

Need I say, there is failure on every level with this resolution. Why do I do this to myself? Coats are chucked on the floor in the kitchen, shoes are flung off somewhere near by but never make it to the shoe rack. Dirty laundry languishes in bedrooms. And don't get me started about the bathroom.

Let's just say I'm thinking of getting a sign made, saying "LIFT THE SEAT".

But despite all the above, I love my boys to bits and there is one resolution, which I make every year and I'm happy to say, it does seem to work out. I resolve to love them just as much as is possible and then some more. 


Hands up who has a drawer full of their children's paintings? OK, how about a cupboard full? A wardrobe and a cupboard, a pinboard so full that bits keep dropping off and several boxes stashed in the loft? Err, that will be me.

I don't know whether it is something to do with being a writer, but ever since they first put pen (or rather, splodgy paintbrush) to paper, I have been the most avid fan of my children's creations. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect other people to think my kids are Picassos-in-waiting, but I just get such joy out of what they make that I find it hard to let go. Ever.

Number one son caused a lot of anxiety by being rather late to want to explore his artistic side.

"When will he do some painting?" I used to ask the kind teachers at nursery, as he charged about the playground, dressed in his Spiderman suit.

They exchanged glances and made some comment about him making "meaningful marks" when he was "ready". Ready? I had a whole kitchen wall prepared for his miniature art works! I didn't want to be pushy but I almost told them to hurry him a long a bit. It turned out he was averse to holding pens and pencils for a long time, so when he did produce a wobbly drawing, a sort of circle, two eyes, a nose and smiley mouth, I was beside myself with joy and pride and stuck it on the wall beside my desk. It was there for years, actually, until I took it down
- and only because we moved house.

Yes, moving house revealed the full extent of my kiddie art hoard. 

Second son was more into painting than the first one, so his portfolio grew quite early on. I was almost moved to tears by his picture of himself in the park by a slide at the age of three. And he then did a family portrait in which we all had huge round bodies and stick legs. I stuck that on the wall too.

My family. Can you see me? I'm the orange one...

My family. Can you see me? I'm the orange one...

Not to be outdone, first child had graduated to what I like to call the "licking and sticking" stage. Yes, model-making using old cardboard. That was the moment that the cornflakes packet and all the inners of the loo rolls start to mysteriously disappear. I didn't mind that but I did draw the line at him nicking the inside of the kitchen roll before it was finished. These creations were quite bulky, which brings me on to another issue.

Do you give in, keep everything, and have a house which looks like an extension of the reception class, with massive splodgy paintings all over the walls and every shelf space covered with play-doh models and strange objects made out of clay?

I have yet to see a child's creation in clay which resembles anything recognisable. They are just sort of squashed brown lumps.

But I kept those as well and I did have a few on the shelves in the kitchen for a time, because I found it hard to say goodbye.

In the summer holidays I made matters worse by sending them to art courses for a week at a time. They returned with yet more paintings, puppets on sticks and massive papier mache dinosaurs (I still have one). A trip to Ikea helped with some of the storage issues but where do you store the storage boxes when the cupboards are full?

I know some mothers who are quite ruthless about it. I'm not judging, in fact I admire their strength of character, as they murmur "That is lovely, darling!", and then chuck yet another finger painting in the bin, before their little one notices. But the fact is, I find it hard to do likewise. Moving house did make me carry out a mini-cull of artworks but there is more to do and I am dreading it.

I love the idea of keeping their pictures, to show them when they are older  - even if we are living in the garden, because we can no longer fit into the house...