The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin daughters - nothing else scares me

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Elf Goes Shopping Again...

Earlier in the week I featured a post all about one of Santa's elves being exceptionally busy in the run up to Christmas, you can read that post here if you wish: The Elf Goes Shopping

Here, the elf picks up where she left off - with more musings on what she's buying for the rest of her friends and family...

For Dad...

Since Stepmum died several years ago, the elf's father decided that he no longer wished to celebrate Christmas. There is nothing the elf can do to change his mind. She tries every year and fails, but she thoughtfully buys a selection of festive treats and a bottle of malt as a gesture - in the hope that someday, her father will rediscover the joys of Christmas. She also attempts to spend as much time as possible with him during the holidays.

For my sister & family...

The elf's nephew is 13, and currently reading the Harry Potter books. The elf thoughtfully purchased the remaining ones missing from his collection and hopes that these will meet with his approval.

The elf's sister has recently celebrated another forty-something birthday and the elf had completely run out of ideas. She thought some more and decided to buy How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran and a bunny bookmark, so that her sister can see rabbits every day and this will make her happy. There's also a small pot of dark chocolate drops to share conceal in her handbag and scoff to herself.

For the elf's brother-in-law there are a couple of new CDs to add to his (extensive) collection.

For Mum and Stepdad...

As Mum and Stepdad aren't fussed on cluttering up the house with tat they don't need, the elf tends to buy a couple of vouchers for treats to enjoy after Christmas. She's still thinking about what this year's gift might be and so, here's what she bought last year instead... chocolates for Stepdad, Seychelles bath and shower gel from The White Company for her mother and vouchers for Bill's Restaurant and the cinema.

For the best friend - who the elf has known for more years than she cares to admit...

The elf knows that her best friend loves rabbits bunnies. There are several pet bunnies hopping around the living room whenever the elf visits. And so, the elf's best friend will be receiving one of these super cute tote bags from CafePress.
Only a best friend could get away with buying such a gift and the elf likes to think that her friend will love it.

For the random person who delivers a gift for whom the elf has no present for...

She leaves a selection of small gifts under the tree. And if you happen to receive a gift from under it that says... With love and best wishes, Happy Christmas from the Andertons - that will be why (sorry). Under the tree you'll find: an orchid, a gorgeous box of chocolates, bottles of Port and Prosecco and a couple of vouchers. All of these can be used at a later date if they're surplus to requirements.

And finally, the cat...

The elf knows that the cat is not one for toys. There have been many attempts to get the cat to engage with these over the years - all of which have resulted in her looking at the item with disdain, before wandering off to find something she's not meant to play with - such as cushions. And so, the elf settled on a gift of Dreamies and tuna so that the family pet can enjoy a special Christmas dinner all of her very own.

There is one thing that the elf completely forgot to do during her Christmas shopping and that was to ask for any gifts for herself. She is not optimistic that members of her family will remember, (apart from her mother) - but hey, it's Christmas and it's better to give than receive. The elf is OK with this. Especially as she finally purchased a couple of tasteful gifts with birthday money she received back in February. This is what she bought... a Valentino handbag, (£39.99 - TK Maxx online), and a White Company Bath Robe. And yes, this is the elf's bathroom - she decided to take a photo before her daughters arrive home for the holidays and it no longer looks anywhere near as tranquil or tidy.

How's Christmas shopping going for you? The elf would love to know...

Copyright ©2015 Izzie Anderton 
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Monday, 23 November 2015

The Elf goes Shopping...

One of Santa's elves has been exceptionally busy this year. She has mostly resembled a pack mule during the three Christmas shopping days she allowed herself, and managed to get drenched on each and every one of these excursions up and down the High Streets of Birmingham, Ludlow and Worcester. After three damp, but successful days, an assortment of gifts were stacked in the corner of one daughter's bedroom and the elf put her thinking cap on and thought some more...

Alcohol always goes down well she thought to herself and so, the stash of presents was added to following weekly trips to the supermarket where several many more gifts were purchased.

For those gifts that were elusive sizes, simply weird and/ or unobtainable from either High Street Street or Supermarket, the elf went online (whilst half-cut on sherry) and stayed there until her eyes had spent far too long trawling the internet. And now she sits and waits for deliveries to arrive, in the hope that December will be a quiet month and she can...
  • Make the most of spending time with her daughter when she arrives home from university on 5th December
  • Watch umpteen Christmas movies which she is strangely addicted to, and... 
  • Drink more sherry
So far...

For the in-laws...

There's a hamper under construction... what the heck are you supposed to buy eighty-something relatives who neither want or need anything at all? This will contain Damson Gun Dog Gin (we sampled this at a food festival and it was rather delicious), a bottle of single malt, Innis & Gunn Ale, plus all the regular festive offerings scoffed only at this time of year such as, whiskey marmalade, shortbread and stollen.

For daughter no 1...
This one's tricky to buy for, but the elf hopes that her gifts are suitable and has kept all of the gift receipts just in case. Daughter no 1 is a little unconventional, maybe a tad bohemian and she loves to read. And so, she has a blanket cape from Superdry, plus an assortment of stationery items and books.

The elf also spotted several rather eclectic gifts on her travels to add to her daughter's stocking. These include: mechanical pencils and a small Moleskin notebook as the elf's daughter has recently started to write for her campus magazine and the elf thought that these may come in useful.

For daughter no 2
And this one is so much easier to shop for. Maybe it's because she's forever leaving stuff behind at parties and rowing social events. Anyway I digress... she will be getting a bargain Superdry jumper from TK Maxx (£16.99) and Caran d'Ache Prismalo pencil crayons - as she's studying illustration and her previous box are all used up. Daughter no 2 has also asked for shoes from the US - whether (or not) these arrive in time for Christmas remains to be seen.

In her stocking, daughter no. 2 will find American sweets and this cute mug from Paperchase (£6) to remind her of summer in the US. She will also find LED tea lights - as she is banned from using real candles after setting fire to her bedroom a couple of years ago :o(

For Mr A
As he's besotted with the family pet... the cat popped into a well-known book store and purchased a copy of Under The Paw by Tom Cox. The cat hopes that this will keep him amused quiet during the festive season and the elf was ever so grateful as this was one less thing she needed to carry.

Mr A is rather fond of rum - so when the elf spied a scrummy bottle of Captain Morgan Black Spiced she quickly ordered it online. Alas the elf carelessly hid this in a very silly place. Mr A sniffed it out like a ferret and promptly helped himself to several glasses before the elf had noticed (see photo). The elf may have wanted to scream. Undeterred, she will purchase another bottle and hide this somewhere Mr A will never think to look. Mr A also loves Badedas shower and bath gel - as the scent is rather heavenly, the elf could not resist. Mr A may have uttered something about buying a new drill... the elf wasn't listening however, and insisted that he order this for himself and promise not to start any DIY projects until after New Year.

For Sister-in-laws family...
As our children are all grown, it was decided that the elves would no longer purchase gifts from one family to the other. Instead, as the Anderton family descend en masse on Christmas Day, they will take gifts to be shared... this year it's a bottle of Prosecco and a sleekster box of Tipsy Truffles from Hotel Chocolat. There will also be flowers - obviously it's too early to buy these.

Is anyone else spotting a trend here? Or do most of these gifts seem to contain alcohol?

The mini picture to accompany this post has nothing whatsoever to do with elves. It did however, amuse the elf and she decided that if the cat decided to write to Santa... this is what she would write. For the record we don't own a dog, so I guess she would change her letter to this... 'take the neighbour's dog.'

The elf returns with extra musings on what to buy for those who are impossible to buy for... click here to read The Elf Goes Shopping Again

Copyright ©2015 Izzie Anderton 
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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Win a Scented Candle from Blaze On

Can there be anything more lovely than the ambient glow of candlelight to make the long winter evenings more bearable?

Any excuse and I'm happy to stay in... curled up in front of the fire with a couple of candles burning and maybe a glass of wine (or two).

As the temperature outside plummets and thoughts turn to Christmas, I love to fill the house with festive fragrances that relax, or invigorate depending on my mood. Scented candles are perfect for achieving a fragrant home and I always add a selection of new ones in the run-up to Christmas.

I am delighted to be working with UK-based company - Blaze On again this year. They kindly sent two demi cupped candles from their latest range for review purposes. With Christmas not so very far away I opted for the fabulously festive, Cranberry Explosion and Cinnamon Snow cupped candles.

Alternative fragrance options include...
  • Blackberry & Bay
  • Bath Time at the Ritz
  • Black Pomegranate
  • Cassis Rose
  • English Pear & Freesia
  • Leather Bound
  • Lime Basil Mandarin
  • Mayfair Spa and,
  • Shanghai Blossom


Both candles arrived in stylish gift boxes, upholstered in mulberry paper. The scent from the candles was evident before I'd even opened the boxes. I also received a beautiful daisy tea light as a complimentary gift.

The Cranberry Explosion candle gave a delicious scent of sweet cranberries enhanced with spicy orange peel, woody notes of cinnamon and sharp lemon zest.

The Cinnamon Snow candle infused an aromatic, warming blend of cinnamon, spiced orange and jasmine throughout the living room and was my favourite scent out of the two. There's something about the vibrant smell of cinnamon that captures the scent of Christmas perfectly.

As the candles are made from 100% natural wax this ensures that the burn is smooth and the scent, optimal. Both candles fragranced the house beautifully - whether lit, or not. And, after burning each one for a couple of hours - the wax was hardly indented at all.

Demi cupped candles have a burn time of 20-25 hours, and retail at £12.50 each. The elegant off-white cup can also be reused as a tea light holder once the candle is finished.

I also received a set of Confectioners Tea Lights. Each tea light in the box is different, intricately hand carved and almost too pretty to burn. These are priced at £12.50 for a box of nine.


Win a demi cupped candle from Blaze On

I'm happy to announce that Blaze On have offered two World According to Izzie readers the chance to win one candle from their demi cupped range - worth £12.50 each.

Terms and Conditions:
  • Leave a blog comment telling me which of the gorgeous candle fragrances you'd like to win
  • Unlock extra entries using Rafflecopter after commenting if you wish
  • UK entry only
  • You must be 18 years or over to enter
  • Ends at midnight on 6th December 2015
  • Two Winners will receive one demi cupped candle of their choice - subject to availability. Choose from: Blackberry & Bay, Bath Time at the Ritz, Black Pomegranate, Cassis Rose, English Pear & Freesia, Leather Bound, Lime Basil Mandarin, Mayfair Spa, Shanghai Blossom, Cinnamon Snow or Cranberry Explosion.
  • Winners will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter. In the event that I cannot make contact after five days, an alternative winner will be selected 
How to enter:

Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright ©2015 Izzie Anderton 

This is a collaborative post. All views are entirely my own.. 

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Two Heart-Warming Tales...

On Friday I went into town on a couple of errands and to pick up some random items we'd run out of at home. While paying for my first purchase at the till, I noticed that the sales assistant had a cold and looked decidedly under the weather. I spotted a box of tissues that had obviously been purchased for him by another member of staff. It read, 'For Ben, who is still completely awesome - even though he has the flu.' For some reason this made me smile, it was a sweet gesture, maybe with a hint of sarcasm... but kind and thoughtful nonetheless. After paying for my shopping I left the store and added, 'Hope you feel better soon.'

'Thanks, I will,' said Ben.

Later, as I queued to pay for Toblerone (not on my list - but does anyone need an excuse to buy one?), teabags and toothpaste in a different store, there was an elderly lady in front of me in the queue. She apologised for being slow and I insisted that she take all the time she needed and offered to help. As her shopping was scanned, the sales assistant started to chat to her while packing her bags. 'Are you getting organised for Christmas?' she asked.

'Yes, I'm not sure I should be bothering though, I have so many health problems I might not be here by then,' she said.

'Well, you're here today and looking well - I guess you just have to keep going.' added the sales assistant.

'Thank you,' said the lady, 'I suppose I'll see you next week then.' I decided that these few kind words had probably made her day as she looked decidedly brighter than she had done previously.

I love how these small gestures made two people feel happier about their day. Sometimes all it takes is a smile and a kind word (or two) to make a difference. I think this quote from an unknown author is rather lovely...

One kind word can change someone's entire day.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton   

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Musings on the John Lewis Christmas Ad

As one of the most anticipated Christmas adverts of the festive season, John Lewis has a lot to live up to following the success of Monty the Penguin last year and my personal favourite, The Bear & The Hare from 2013.

I'd not seen the latest 2015 advert, 'Man On The Moon,' but after reading all the hype at the weekend I decided to go online and see it for myself.

My initial thoughts were that it wasn't actually very festive at all. In fact it was rather sad and I was slightly disturbed by the thought of a young girl watching an older man through a telescope - especially as everyone around her appeared oblivious to her actions. I'm sorry, but I notice these things - I mentor children in real life and this rang alarm bells. After reminding myself that it was just an advert and not real life, I read a little into the background behind the storyline - realising that it had been created in partnership with Age UK and had an important message.

While most of us are getting on with our busy lives and happily absorbed in the festivities with friends and family, Christmas can be a lonely time for many older people.

According to Age UK, '60% of older people don't expect to experience any festive happiness over the Christmas season.' I'll confess to being shocked by this figure.

The 'Man On The Moon' advert features the story of a little girl staring through a telescope. She spies an old man living all alone on the moon and has several (failed) attempts to make contact with him.

On Christmas Day a parcel attached to helium balloons lands successfully at his feet. It contains a telescope from the girl and the man manages to spot her back on planet earth. It ends with the message, 'Show someone they're loved this Christmas.'

Set to Half The World Away (originally by Oasis) and sung by Norwegian vocalist, Aurora, the music sets the scene perfectly for this tear-jerking offering.

While the advert isn't especially festive, it does have a sentimental ending as the old man realises that someone is out there and thinking about him. I guess that will make 2015 a memorable year in the history of Christmas adverts for John Lewis, and raising awareness of loneliness amongst the elderly can only be a good thing. It's a shame that the Age UK logo isn't featured on the advert to help get the message across.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we all tried to make a difference to someone who's on their own during the festive season?

I'm not adding a link to the advert on my blog but if you want to take a peek, you'll find it on You Tube under John Lewis Christmas advert 2015.

Warning: tissues at the ready - it made me sob. I'm guessing this was down to recently losing my grandmother and imagining that she's somewhere out there keeping a watchful eye over her family. She was lucky enough to never be alone at Christmas.

No one actually asked me to write this post. I'm just missing my grandmother today and wanted to make a difference - this was something she was passionate about.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton   

Image credit: Pixabay

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Monday, 9 November 2015

Ten Reasons to Love Winter...

For years I have loathed winter and tolerated its long nights and frosty days only by wishing the months away and looking out for first signs of spring. I've decided that winter does have some redeeming features however, and this year I plan on embracing my least favourite season by concentrating on the aspects that I love.

Here are my ten reasons to love winter...

1. Bright wintry mornings
I don't tend to lie-in on any day of the week but at the weekends when I don't have to work, there's nothing quite like a walk in the forest for an exhilarating start to the day. Arriving home again and thawing out in front of the fire with a mug of coffee (or hot chocolate) provides the perfect antidote for a bracing walk in the great outdoors.

2. Christmas traditions
Don't we have more traditions in winter than at any other time of the year? These are the warm fuzzy moments that stay in our minds creating memories of time spent with loved ones. This year I'll be heading to a carol concert, taking my daughters to the cinema on Christmas Eve and drinking sherry with my mother when I arrive home again. This is what happens every year and we're already looking forward to spending this time together.

3. Winter wardrobe
I love the freedom of simple summer dresses and Birkenstocks when the weather's warmer, but there's something rather hypnotic about wrapping up in layers that can be added to, or discarded depending on the temperature. On nights when I don't have to go out I look for any excuse for an early bath and will happily spend the rest of the evening wearing pyjamas, a dressing gown and slippers - this is not something I'd ever contemplate during the summer months.

4. Comfort food
If strawberries and crisp bowls of fresh salad were invented for balmy days of summer, then apple crumble and macaroni cheese have to be the elixir of winter. Somehow it feels wrong to eat comfort food when it's warm outside, but winter provides the perfect excuse for indulgence and it's not as though we have to be seen in swimwear until next summer.

5. Cosy nights at home
I'm always happy to have made the effort when I venture out on a cold winter's night, but I much prefer to stay in and hibernate. Snuggling up indoors with the heating on as the temperature plummets and taking time to enjoy a leisurely bath, read a magazine or catch-up with everything on iPlayer is a great way to unwind.

6. Twixmas
What's not to love about Twixmas? If you're lucky enough to not have to work during the traditionally laid-back week between Christmas and New Year, then it's time to chill after all that pre-festive chaos and make the most of walks in the forest, read new books received as presents and make plans for the year ahead.

7. Movies
I have every intention of going to the cinema to see the latest releases throughout the year, but somehow it seems wrong to be cooped up inside when the weather is mild and the days, long. I use the winter months to catch up with the films I've missed on DVD, and look forward to seeing the latest releases at the cinema. The cinema on Christmas Eve is brilliant if you've never tried it. Think: almost empty and leaving afterwards feeling nostalgic about everything. We try to see the latest kitsch Christmas movie offering on Christmas Eve and save the latest blockbuster release for Twixmas.

8. Candles and Fairy Lights 
I love all the glitz and glamour that is Christmas, with the house decorated throughout - all sparkly and maybe a little over the top. But when the decorations come down, we keep the winter-scented candles and fairy lights to add a touch of indulgence during long, winter evenings.

9. New Year
I gave up making New Year resolutions a long time ago after never managing to keep any after the second week in January. As a result I'm still a chronic nail biter and I guess this is something I'll have to live with. However, New Year is a fresh start and provides us with the opportunity to make plans for the coming year - even if you can't kick those bad habits.

10.  Snow
From previous experience I am not a fan of the white stuff. I love to watch the snow from the safety of home, but can't stand having to drive in it. One Friday night several years ago saw heavy snowfall and meant that I was unable to drive home safely with my daughters. I did the only rational thing I could think of and abandoned the car and walked to a friend's house where we spent the night. Ever since I've been wary of getting stuck - as it's not an experience I'd care to repeat. But I guess I can love the snow from the comfort of my own home (or garden) and not having to go anywhere in particular is really rather lovely.

So this year instead of feeling down about the winter months - I'm going to stay positive and try to focus on all that's good instead.

What are your top reasons to love winter?

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton   
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Friday, 6 November 2015

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I was tagged a few weeks ago by the lovely Lara over at Life and Love in London for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award (apologies for not getting around to this sooner!). I love these kind of posts as it's a chance to share the blogging love and discover loads of interesting facts about your favourite bloggers.

I've been challenged to answer ten questions from Lara and follow this up with ten questions of my own for the seven bloggers I nominate for the award.

Here are my answers...

What's your favourite way to relax?
Curled up with a good book and a glass of wine. Ideally the book will be amusing, but cynical. Think David Nicholls, Us, Jenny Éclair, Camberwell Beauty and Sue Townsend, The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year.

My superpower would be...
It would have to be teleportation. Imagine how many extra hours you'd have spare each day with not wasting any time in the car. Also, how marvellous would it be to pop over to the Caribbean for a swim on a rainy day in the UK?! The possibilities are endless.

Who was your teen crush?
There were so many of them. Hangs head in shame. And I'm not convinced this is anything I should be sharing on my blog. But as I'm sticking to the rules of the award (see later), in no particular order they were... Stewart Copeland (drummer with The Police), Julian Cope and Andrew Ridgely (Wham!).   

Which actress would play you in the film of your life?
That's an easy one, it would have to be Fay Ripley. I think she has a down-to-earth look about her and that's how I am in real life.

What would be your last supper?
A bowl of delicious vegetarian paella made with cashews, red peppers, mushrooms, onion, petits pois and rice flavoured with chilli, Italian herbs and paprika and topped with Parmesan cheese. Followed by tiramisu for dessert (probably shop-bought) and a bottle of Prosecco to wash everything down nicely.

What is your ultimate holiday destination?
I adore the US as there's so much to see and do that it's impossible to run out of ideas. I've been lucky enough to travel there several times. Destinations explored so far include: Orlando, Clearwater, Boston, Salem, Rockport, Plymouth, Falmouth, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Hyannis. New York is currently on my wish list and I'm currently planning a holiday for my 50th birthday.

What seemingly little thing annoys you beyond reason?
The control settings on my gas hob. I start cooking, turn my back for a second and the contents of the saucepan will be spewing all over the hob. Turn it down a fraction and what's cooking won't even bubble gently. Aarrgh. I've just cleaned it again after last night's dinner: pesto pasta with green beans. It was a mess.

Paris or Vegas?
It would have to be Paris. I've been three times - as a teenager, as a family of four and once with my husband. I don't think I could ever tire of meandering around this beautiful city and discovering new sights. I would love to see Vegas, but maybe only for a couple of days... I'm not sure what I'd make of it.

Who is your hero?
My grandmother was my hero. She was born in 1919 and worked hard all her life. She was happy to help anyone and generous with her time and kind words. Sadly, she died in August this year. I can't begin to explain how much I miss her.

If I could be anybody besides myself, I would be...
Do I have to be a person? Can I be a cat instead? Ideally one that's as pampered as ours...

Thank you to Lara for the award x

And finally, I get to tag some of my favourite bloggers...

Sonya at The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock 'n' Roll Mum
Sara at Mum Turned Mom
Marie at Normal Everyday Life
Sarah at Mum of Three World
Nell at The Pigeon Pair and Me
Natalie at Plutonium Sox
Morgan at Morgan's Milieu

These are the rules...

    ∙ Thank the blogger who gave you the award and link back to their blog
    ∙ Answer the ten questions given to you
    Nominate seven bloggers for the award
    ∙ Write ten questions for your nominees to answer
    Display the award on your blog or post

And my questions are...

   Champagne or cocktails?

   What do you watch on TV when no one else is home?

   Name three people, dead or alive who you'd like to invite for dinner

   How would your best friend describe you?

   What were the last three things you bought?

   Do you have any hidden talents?

   What do you wish you'd known at the age of sixteen?

   Chocolate - white, dark or milk?

   What drives you completely insane?

   ∙ Name your top three favourite books

I can't wait to read your answers.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton   
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Monday, 2 November 2015

An Unexpected Smile...

There was an unusual item of mail in the Anderton house last week that  made a change to the usual bills, statements and advertising junk. It was  a postcard all the way from the US in an unfamiliar, difficult to decipher handwriting. I read the thing (as you would), smiled at the content I could read and quickly put it down again - deciding that it had been delivered to the wrong address.

On the way up to bed that evening, I mentioned to Mr A that we'd received mail that wasn't ours and did he know of anyone by the name of Mr Kent, (which was how I'd read it) who lived locally? I'd racked my brain several times over and failed to come up with who it might be. It transpired that Mr A had no idea either.

The scribbled lines were filled with anecdotes and humour that I suspected only the true recipient would understand. I couldn't bear the thought of them not receiving their postcard all the way from Washington State with news from their friend or relative when such care had gone into its words - albeit in handwriting that was barely legible.

Letters and postcards seem to be a thing of the past with modern technology and it transpires that we can stay in touch from wherever we are in the world. Although that wasn't the case this summer for daughter, Sophia. There was no signal in the middle of the Oregon wilderness where she stayed for almost three months. Apart from the occasional email, I wrote to her each week with news and crazy anecdotes from home in an attempt to make the 5000 mile distance between us feel not so far away.

Doesn't that make a letter or postcard something to treasure? Will anyone hold onto a memorable email to reflect on in the years to come I wonder?

Picking the postcard up again the following morning, I finally managed to fathom out the name of the sender... it was Smudge. Next I noticed the recipient was KatKat. This was my daughter's nickname at Camp America during the summer. Staff are referred to by nickname rather than their actual name and I vaguely remembered my daughter, telling me she'd met a friend called Smudge.

Talking to my daughter over the weekend via Skype, I decided against telling her about the postcard. Instead, I've written to her and tucked the card behind my letter for her to discover for herself.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton   

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