More than a Mum

More than a mum is the place I save everything that doesn’t fall into the Travel, Food and Lifestyle buckets. It’s all those little things that go into my life and make me the person I am. Expect to find, fashion, beauty, photography, hobbies and anything else that is another part of me that I thought you might be interested in.

winter sun

This month has flown by, I am surprised by how one week rolls into the next and before I know it, the month of January is on it’s way out!

Last time I wrote, I spoke about my choice of word to guide me through 2018, Willpower. This post is a catch up to see how far I have got and what changes, if any, to make.

My biggest achievement to date is my Couch to 5K efforts. I am so surprised at myself – pleasantly surprised. Let me explain …

I have always been one of those people who sniggered when they saw runners struggling up hills – why would you do that when you can sit comfortably at home? Who raised eyebrows at the sight of runners out in the rain and I have always declared – I am not a runner. I don’t like running. I will never run.

Fast forward to January 2018 and I have had to eat my words – every single one of them.

Oast house Ifield

I have joined our local SLGR (So Let’s Go Running) group who meet on a Tuesday evening, which conveniently ties in with the twin’s Brownie session, and I take part in the C25K training (Couch to 5k). This is all part of my Willpower challenge with myself. I have notoriously, all my life, started activities and then religiously dropped them a few weeks in for all manner of ridiculous reasons. I am determined to change this even and complete the C25K even if I don’t know what will happen once I reach the 5k (if I reach the 5k).

To give you a better insight into what the C25K challenge is I have copied the program below, I have completed two weeks and on Tuesday will be tackling Week 3 – a two minute run with 90-second walk intervals.

Weeks 1-6 start with 5 mins walking warm-up

Weeks 1-5 = 4k
Weeks 6+ = 5k

Week 1 – 30 sec run/90 sec walk
Week 2 – 60 sec run/90 sec walk
Week 3 – 2 mins run/90 sec walk
Week 4 – 2 mins run/1 min walk
Week 5 – 4 mins run/1 min walk
Week 6 – 5 mins run/1 min walk
Week 7 – 7 mins run/1 min walk
Week 8 – 10 mins run/1 min walk
Week 9 – 15 mins run/1 min walk
Week 10 – 5k run

It’s advisable to repeat the run at least once every week, so last week I took part in my first Park Run and this morning, Sunday, I went out on my first solo run and re-ran the course we complete on a Tuesday. I was amazed that I did it and I had a better time too. I am incredibly proud of myself as I have always been so anti-running and yet, here I am doing exactly that.

I am using the Strava app to record all of my runs, connect with me if you’re on there too.

my strava runs

For now, I can safely say I am on track with this aspect of my Willpower challenge. Other areas included

Writing – and on this, I am slacking but for all good reasons that, if they come to fruition, I shall be more than happy to share with you.

Reading – I am on my third book this year, a good Patricia Cornwell. I used to read her books when I lived in Italy and discuss them in minute detail with my friend Nicoletta so reading this book takes me back to those times too.

Getting fit and losing my baby weight (yes I know it’s been 9 years!) – There hasn’t been much movement on the scales to date but I have been trying to work my way through all of the Christmas chocolate. I am nearly done with it and so hopefully this will start to improve too. Half a stone off and a tighter tummy by June – here I come.

Let it be said I am happy with my willpower progress, it might not be 100% but so far so good. Well done me!

The photos above were taken on a recent family walk ;)

Marianne Weekes

marianne weekes


That is the word I have chosen to take me through 2018. I have a feeling I’m going to need a lot of it as I have set myself some high goals to attain and, knowing myself well, I will need constant pushing, coercing and chivvying along until I reach where I want to be.

2017 has been a year of enormous unforeseeable change for me, I went from a part-time job to a full-time role in January and discovered it was increasingly difficult for me to juggle the work-life balance. When school kids have 13 weeks holiday, the 21 days I had this year went nowhere. I am all too aware that this moment in the twins life will flash by in front of my eyes so I’m determined to make the most of it and get to spend some quality time with them that, they can learn from and carry through in life.

I changed job in November. I started as a TA in our local primary school, a job I have never previously considered. I quickly discovered that I loved it and recognised so many possibilities to make this role work even better for me. Studying will most definitely be a part of my 2018, I’m not sure which course or direction but anything from a 1-year course to a full-blown degree. More on that news to follow.

A second idea I have been toying with is a Couch to 5k running class, I know – ludicrous. Me, who HATES running. But, I’m unhappy with my figure, I’m unhappy with my fitness levels and my general health so I need to do something about it whilst I am still able to. My only concern is for my knees which I can only assess once I start running.

I have found a local running group and should start my first lesson in January, plus it’s free!

I want to start practising yoga, I want a stronger core and a clearer mind. I’m searching for a Saturday morning class to attend.

Finally, I’ve convinced myself to pick up a project I started with great enthusiasm a couple of years ago and then left to one side for lack of time available. I believe this project still has legs so I’m determined to complete the first stage in 2018. Then I will be able to see if it has legs to go further or not. I hope it does. I have spent many hours dreaming of how far this could go and I will only know if I set the wheels in motion. Wish me luck!

I am very aware that I will need great discipline to achieve the above. I am also conscious that this is the area I let myself down in most, therefore I call upon my chosen word WILLPOWER to be my guide this year.

And you? Do you have plans for 2018? Have you a chosen word to accompany you?

Maybe Willpower isn’t the word for you; take a look at what some of my friends have chosen as their word of the year for further inspiration…

Tanya  chose Enough

Michelle went for Believe

Becky seleted Choice

Kate has settled for Mind

sorry you're leaving

Just over two years ago I stepped into James Villas HQ as a social media executive and set to work on helping to develop the brand’s social channels. I was so excited to have been given the opportunity and I embraced it with open arms ready to get stuck into any task that was thrown my way.

It has been the most incredible journey where I have learnt so much!

Working as part of a team and having my copy proofed and checked has been a good wake up call, who knew I was so keen on long sentences? I have learnt to slow down, take my time and re-read my work. I hope you are starting to see these small changes coming through.

I have learnt to think more closely about images – do they reflect what I am saying?

I have learnt that social channels are fickle, we don’t own them ‘they’ do. Facebook might only show a tiny percentage of your followers your hard work, it’s incredibly frustrating and I can often be found ranting about Facebook…

I have also learnt that working full time alongside running a home, family and life outside of the office doors is a real struggle. My main challenge came with trying to cover the school holidays. The girls get 13 weeks off and I had 21 days. It was this, that led me to hand in my notice – something I never believed I would do. I had imagined working until my retirement at James.

When I was reflecting on my life and how to make it better I started to search for jobs that would compliment being a mum.

I needed a job that fits in with school holidays and school hours. That would allow me to take the girls to after school clubs without skidding out of one door and screeching into the next, red-faced and often having forgotten something or even worse – arriving at the wrong time.

I had always pushed teaching to one side as I didn’t think I’d be good at it but as I started to look more closely at the opportunities in local schools, I saw our local primary was looking for a TA. The more I thought about the job, read the role description, the more it became a very exciting prospect.

I applied for the job and was successful – I start work on Monday morning!

I am swapping the weekly business meetings for a classroom of 8 year olds.

I am exchanging my snatched half hour lunch to who knows? Playground duty, lunchtime clubs or getting to know the teachers in the staff room?

I shall be helping out with reading and maths, chatting about geography and science. I shall be doing all manner of tasks to assist the teacher and doing my bit to help these young fresh minds find their way.

I shall also be grabbing back a bit of time for me. I want to pick up my blogging, tidy my house, read a book, help Alice learn to sew, help Bessie learn to play the piano. I want to get back into cooking again, not just quickly pulling a meal together to feed the family.

I am also going to start the 0 – 5k challenge as I have managed to put a stone since working full time.

So many things to do but my heart is lighter and I think I’m on to something good here … what do you think?

Creative writing online course

Business image created by Katemangostar –

It’s been a while now that I have wanted to do something to better myself. I like to have a project and I like to think that I am constantly working at improving my skills in one way or another, be it for work, home or just for fun. I just need more time in the day, that’s all. Small ask.

Anyhow, I have signed up for an NCC course in creative writing.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a book for years, I have started a few and slowly petered out, unsure of my words and unsure of the path to complete the story but every time I listen to people like JK Rowling, who celebrates 20 years today since Harry Potter first published, I am inspired and my desire to write kicks in again.

Who knows, maybe by the time I am 100 I’ll have something to show you.

In the meantime, I am working on improving my writing skills. I think I have come a long way since my first attempts at blogging. Grammar, spelling, attention to detail and constructing a simple sentence that is understandable have all played a role in this process and I am very aware that I have a long way to go before I will be satisfied with my work.

NCC is an online home learning website that has many different courses to complete; science, culture, health care and business are just some of the sectors where courses are offered. The forensic scientist course shouted out at me but that’s because I love Silent Witness and other similar dramas. I can’t really see myself taking up a career in this sector and I’m not sure I would sleep easy either.

So, I’ve gone for the creative writing course, I’ve completed the first module and started the second, so far so good. I don’t feel as if I have learnt anything new yet but I am looking forward to ploughing ahead and discovering lots of new styles of writing. I shall be looking at poetry, writing for radio, novel writing, life writing, writing for children, non-fiction, scriptwriting (looking forward to this module). I will even have to sit an exam at the end.

The good news is I shall have a certificate if I pass. But more than the certificate, I’ll have spent some quality time improving and expanding an area of my life that I love and am passionate about.

What about you? Would you like to take up a course and further your knowledge? If so, what would you like to study?

Disclosure: NCC has given me a Creative Writing course (without tutor feedback) in return for a review. I’ll be back soon (after 200 hours study) to let you know how I got on.

A few other friends have taken up the challenge and you can find out what they are studying and how they are getting on here.

Mummy Barrow is learning to be a Life Coach



I think it might be my best achievement to date, being a finalist in the Family & Lifestyle category of the BiBs 2017 awards! Holding down a full-time job, running a home and family and on top of that writing is not a task for the weak. Continuing to write is a passion, it has to be otherwise why else would I use my precious free time to keep on at it? But it has paid off and I am wearing my finalist badge with honour.

I am over the moon considering the exceptional quality of blogs out there. Loyal readers will know that I have been blogging for over 7 years now, I started in 2010 when there were a mere few hundred blogs and we spent our time writing, commenting and learning the skill that has since become so popular. It was a very different scene back then compared to the explosion of great blogs there are today.

The new bloggers are way more savvy than I was when I first started and it is evident from their presentation, their superb promotional skills and the way they write confidently. However, I have made it to the finals as I have many times in the past, even with my first nomination back in 2010, look I still have my badge!


I can’t tell you what it would mean to win this award, having reached the finalists on so many occasions and being pipped at the post I am kind of setting myself up for another disappointment, but like everything in life – if you don’t give it your best shot then you’ll never know. I am very British about asking for votes (which clearly doesn’t help my case) but PLEASE, would you vote for my little blog in the Family & Lifestyle category?

Votes close on 2nd July  – THIS SUNDAY – so please don’t wait, go straight in and plant your cross on my name. I will be forever grateful to you. Just click on the link below and thank you for taking the time.


Vote for #BiBs2017 here!