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.

JD Williams winter coat

Now there’s a title I never thought I’d write but the time has come and boy is it getting hot in here! The menopause symptoms are here and it’s time to share the knowledge.

This year I turned 50. That’s no secret, I have tried to embrace this number as much as I can but I won’t lie, it still scares me and I still think of it as old. Said that, I am still battling on and trying my best to live life to its fullest. In actual fact my life has never been busier and more fulfilling.

One thing I have kept secret though, is the menopause as the very word seems to have an air of ‘disapproval’ about it. No one talks about it. It’s like a dirty word and something to be swept under the carpet.

I find this a bit weird if I am honest. I have had regular periods every month of my life since I was 11 and I haven’t enjoyed one of them, oh apart from those times I thought I may be pregnant when I seriously didn’t want to be pregnant. I have always looked on this part of being a woman as a pain, something to endure and I’ve been waiting since I had the twins for it all to finish.

I am fully appreciative of the fact that I was ‘lucky’. I had regular cycles, regular ovulation and therefore was able to get pregnant and today, I have four beautiful children as a result. But there were painful months, frightening months, heavy months and months when my period would last way longer than the normal 4/5 days.

However, I am pleased to announce my last period was in August, let’s have a fanfare, balloons and party!

Four months with no cycle, can you imagine how wonderful that is? No more sore boobs, no erratic mood swings (well maybe a few, ahem). No pains in my back or in my tummy, no headaches and of course no blood, that has to be the very best part. I am still prepared and carry around the necessary in my handbag just in case, but I’ve not had to buy any sanitary items for four months now.

However, on the down side of this magnificent milestone comes a lot of brand new symptoms that my body is having to get to grips with.

Menopause symptoms

Hot Flushes

menopause symptoms

Credit: Women over 50/Facebook

These are pure fire. There is no mistaking a hot flush and I have got so good at recognising when one is on its way that I can start to strip and prepare before the onslaught. To have an idea of what a hot flush is like, this is how I experience one. I start to feel hot, I wriggle a bit in my clothing and take off a layer if I can, luckily it’s winter and I am normally wearing a cardigan. I then feel the flush travel, my entire back heats up as if I am resting against an oven door, my neck is hot and starts to sweat, my face starts to sweat, I start to rub the sweat most likely removing any make up I happen to be wearing and I start to pin my hair up so cool air can reach the back of my neck. My chest is hot, my thighs are hot, my feet are hot. Then as quickly as it started, it disappears. I replace my socks and my cardigan, lower my hair and thank my body that it has passed. That is a hot flush and they can be quite frequent on certain days.

Night Sweats

menopause symptoms

Credit: Women over 50/Facebook

As autumn approached this year and the temperatures dropped I changed our lovely light 4.5 tog duvet for the winter one envisioning long winter nights snuggled up underneath, nice and cosy. Last month I gave up and reverted back to the summer duvet! A night sweat is like a hot flush but happens when you are sleeping and blissfully unaware so you are woken in a pool of your own sweat, throwing back the covers, opening the windows and stripping out of your pyjamas. It’s like someone turned the thermostat up to 100C.


Another symptom of the menopause is shivering and usually alternates with hot flushes. Picture a woman sitting down for a nice evening on the sofa, she starts to shiver and drags a throw over her to warm up, she grabs a nice hot cup of tea and settles only to be disturbed by an oncoming hot flush. Put down the tea, take off the throw, strip socks, cardigans and anything else that can be easily removed. The shivering is just as irritating as a hot flush as it seems you are cold through to the core.

Loss of libido

Hot Flash

Credit: women over 50/Facebook

I was hoping they were lying when I first read this symptom but they are not. However, do not despair, it’s not like it’s over for good, it’s just not top of your priority list any more. I find a hard week at work, challenging children, extra homework and the normal run to run of the family home is sometimes enough to make me just want to fall into the deepest sleep once I hit the mattress so it’s very hard to pinpoint a loss of libido amongst all of that.

Mood Swings

Another one difficult to pinpoint and blame on the menopause, after all I have been having mood swings since my periods started. Having said that, I did have enormous rage yesterday for the most trivial of reasons (we argued about putting the rubbish out and I sent a text in capital letters later on to state my case – unnecessary but hey ho). My problem with rage is I don’t recognise it until it has passed and then I nod and say, ‘Ah, rage again!’ I just wish I could spot this before and therefore eliminate it.


Credit: women after 50/Facebook


I think the most important thing to keep in mind whilst journeying through the menopause is to be aware and embrace the moment; it’s going to come so learn how to manage it to the best of your abilities.

Products to help


I was sent a couple of products by Promensil about a month ago, a spray that is used during a hot flush as it pulls the heat to the surface of the skin which I have found to be very helpful indeed. It smells nice too. The second product is a box of tablets with isoflavones from red clover, one of the world’s richest sources of isoflavoes. These tablets, taken once a day help maintain a good general health as well as bone and cholesterol health. I love the spray and have been taking the tablets although I am very forgetful. I think it’s something I shall continue with for the health benefits.


Disclosure: Promensil sent me the products mentioned, all opinions are my own.


If you are anything like me then when my letter arrived from Kent Police to say the speed camera on Valley Drive had caught me going 37mph in a 30mph limit area I groaned. ‘What? That’s only 2 mph over!’ I yelled at the piece of paper. (Some counties allow a 10% + 2mph, so 30mph zone would be 33+2=35mph)

To top the injustice, I happened to get that fine on the very day Everything Was Going Wrong.

I had my parents coming for lunch bringing the girls back after a few days down at the caravan. My morning was to be a busy one but I was well organised, I needed to shop, fill the car with petrol and get back in time to get lunch on the table. Normally this would be easy BUT as I leapt out of my car at the petrol pump with just my debit card in my hand to pay for the fuel, my car locked me out – I had taken the keys out of the ignition and left them on the passenger seat for safe keeping. That was the first domino falling on a series of others throughout that day.

A couple of weeks later the letter arrived and I realised that day had proven to be even worse.

The letter offers a couple of options for first time offenders, pay £100 fine and accept 3 points on your license or pay £87 and complete a National Speed Awareness Course.

I begrudgingly chose the latter moaning about wasting my time and of course the money.

Today I am returned from my National Speed Awareness Course and I have to say it wasn’t that bad at all.

I had to be there at 8.15, it was raining and the roads were completely blocked up so I screeched (last) into the room just in time before the 8.30am cut off. I sat down in a room of about 20 offenders of all ages, both sexes and various walks of life and we listened to John and Dave take turns in running through the presentation.

The presentation is very well thought out and you are invited to participate in joint activities with the people at your table.

I have learnt loads, for example, ‘Only two miles above the speed limit.’ can actually mean life or death to a person you hit. I didn’t know that the major stopping part of slamming on the brakes comes at the final bit of the car screeching to a halt, therefore it takes the car longer to break at a higher speed plus it will travel further.

Travelling at 30 mph you will brake in time and come to a halt before hitting the person/car in front of you

Travelling at 35 mph you will hit that person/car at 18mph and cause a lot of damage.

Travelling at 40 mph you will hit that person or car at 26 mph and will most likely kill or cause life changing injuries.


Did you know road facts

  1. Speed is one of the main factors in fatal road accidents
  2. In 2013, 3,064 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes where speed was a factor
  3. The risk of death is approximately four times higher when a pedestrian is hit at 40mph than at 30mph
  4. Fatal accidents are four times as likely on rural “A” roads as urban “A” roads
  5. Each camera placed on the roadside is an exact spot where someone has lost their life from a driving related accident.

How can I tell what the speed limit is?

The easiest and quickest way is to look for street lights along the road, if there are lights then the speed limit will be 30 mph unless there are signs stating otherwise. if there are no street lights then the road will be a national speed limit unless signs dictate differently.

SLOW written on the road

Another interesting fact I came away with was seeing SLOW written on the road as you drive along, often on a red blanket to make it stand out more and accompanied by signs with hi vis surrounds on them. the letters stand for

S – Speed

L – Low

O – Observe

W – Warnings

The course invites you to look at yourself and the decisions you take on the road. I went over the speed limit as I was having a bad day, got distracted and decided to take the chance that I wouldn’t be caught.

How can I change this in future?

It’s so simple, you just have to slow down and respect the rules.

Why should I?

There are three levels of luck in this particular process.

  1. You get away with it but are likely to do the same again another time.
  2. You get caught and are invited to a NSAC if it’s a first time. You can only attend one course in three years, should you get caught again within that 3 year bracket you’ll be charged £100 and given 3 points minimum – it could be more depending on the speed you were at.
  3. You could seriously hurt someone or worse kill them.


JD wiliams coat and boots

People will stare, make it worth their while – Harry Winston

Autumn time, it’s getting colder!

We haven’t turned our heating on yet but I know it’s only a question of days until we flick the switch and move into winter mode, the evenings are darker, the nights colder and it’s time to pack away the summer gear.

This is the time of year when I look forward to getting out my warmer gear, old coats I have grown fond of and can count how long they’ve been in my wardrobe on both hands. The problem lies when you have to come to terms with the fact that they have had their day and it’s time to give it to charity and treat yourself to a new coat.

I’m also in need of new winter boots this year as mine are looking incredibly tatty.

JD Williams have recently got in touch and asked me to choose a couple of items from their website and I struggled to come to a decision as there were so many gorgeous pieces. It’s a very easy website to navigate and the collections are fashionable and reasonably priced. I realised, as I was browsing that, I seem to always go for the same styles and colours. I find this comforting as I seem to have guessed what looks good on me and stay clear of items that just won’t look right. It’s also a great way of replacing a piece that you have loved so much but had to get rid of.

Winter coats

JD Williams winter coats

In my winter wardrobe I like to have a selection to choose from but my winter coat staples are

Anorak  – which is short and warm, this is perfect for walking the dog and ambling through parks, beaches and around town.

Long padded winter coat – Just the coat for the winter school run when I could get caught in rain, sleet or even snow. This is my favourite and warmest coat

Going out coat – This is my fancy pants coat, the one I wear when we go out, my smart coat if you like.

This year I have a new addition to add to my coat collection a work coat! I drive in the car to and from work so it needs to be comfortable, I walk at lunchtime with colleagues so it needs to be warm and of course it must also be fashionable, after all I am wearing it to work. PS It can also double up as a going out coat ;)

I found this beauty in the JD Williams Womens Winter Coats selection and I tested it out last weekend at Centre Parcs. Much to my delight it was perfect on all the above points

Winter boots

JD Williams boots

I love boots, they are like slippers to me and I spend the best part of winter in them. As I was browsing the JD Williams site I came across these beauties with Lorraine Kelly’s signature on them, a woman I admire greatly. I was so pleased when JD Williams said I could have them as they are breaking away from my normal flat boot and are perfect for work.

They have a tortoise coloured heel and are quite high for me so I shall use them for going out and special occasions as I’m not good in heels – my feet ache after a while in them.

My only concern is when I have to go and make the tea for the team … will I manage carrying a tray of 8 mugs in those heels?

Disclosure: I was sent the items mentioned for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own.

Weekes family timanfaya

The secret to a long life is an ongoing intriguing matter for me. I find the older I get, the more I consider my body and how I use it, after all I only have this one and ideally I’d like it to last me a very long time. I would love to discover the secret to a long life so I have been doing a bit of research and I thought I’d share my findings with you; then you can keep reading Mari’s World for years to come and I can keep writing. You’re happy – I’m happy.

The fact that my great grandmother died a month before her 103rd birthday has always filled me with optimism that I will naturally follow in her footsteps. Her daughter, my grandmother, will be celebrating 96 at the end of the month and her longevity has added to my faith. However, every now and then the fear of not being around for long grips me and I run a quick check over my lifestyle to see if I could be doing better.

The secret to a long life

Broken into six areas, I get the feeling that if you are doing well in each you can give yourself a slap on the back and a big round of applause. Let’s take a look.


Most of the food we eat is home cooked from scratch. Occasionally I will get something pre-prepared, like on my work days when I come home bushed but we very rarely have take aways and my cooking has been heavily influenced by my years in Italy, so I’m pretty sure we have a healthy diet.

I am a bit overweight and that needs addressing, middle age spread they call it. I think my metabolism has dropped and I’m not burning the calories like I used to. This is really annoying as I still have the appetite that I used to.

My struggle is cutting back and not cutting out all of my favourite indulgences. I am still searching for the perfect diet for me but cutting out a daily chocolate treat sadly, seems to be a great step forward.

My other vice is wine. Yeah I know, my favourite treat in the whole wide world and it would seem I’m drinking pure fat mixed with poison. So, I only drink at the weekends and then in moderation. No more propping up the bars or knocking back shots and cocktails to the early hours these days.

Healthy heart

I was asked to go for a health MOT a few months back which, of course, I sailed through but it did highlight the importance of a healthy heart and a healthy lifestyle.

With some of my birthday money I invested in a Fitbit; a lot of my colleagues have one and the part I love is the community aspect. I can now take part in challenges with friends all over the country. It has inspired me to get up and get walking as I hate days when I have a low step count.

Purpose in life

static caravan

Apparently, having a purpose in life is paramount to living longer. Well I have loads of purposes at the moment, 4 kids and 3 grandkids to start with! A husband I love and we’ve just invested in a static caravan in Birchington.

I also have my job which is no longer shiny and new as I’ll be clocking up a year in October. I love my work and the company I work for, they have given me an extra purpose in life.

I’m not short of purpose for the moment.

Reduce stress levels

I’m not a neurotic, stressed out working mother but I will admit stress can get to me. I notice it most when I have a song on ear worm and on waking during the night I can hear the song over and over again in my head. That’s an annoying indication that I need to step back and relax.

I am very, very good at stepping back and indulging in a lazy day. Only this has been known to bring on indulging in treats which goes against the food point made earlier! Vicious circle, right there.

Be social

That is me! I have a wonderful family who I love to catch up with, I have friends I like to meet up with and of course my immediate family which I love spending time with. When I’m not with them I am online, although I have managed to reduce the amount of time I spend online since starting work which I am very pleased about.


Not a problem, I gave up smoking in 2013 and haven’t looked back since. One of the best decisions I ever made. However, I do still worry about any leftover damage I may have caused in my crazier years as I did smoke a lot.

sunlife death clock

For a bit of fun I had a go at the SunLife Death Clock – sounds ominous doesn’t it, but it works out I still have another 48 years to enjoy! I think that’s a great excuse to have a glass of wine don’t you? Oh I can’t it’s a Wednesday!

Disclosure: A collaboration with SunLife

I left BritMums back in October last year when I took up a part time job with James Villas working on the marketing team, specifically the social media team. It was a wise move as I would never have been able to run the two jobs together, there just isn’t enough time in the day plus we have some work days that are completely draining and I need to switch off of an evening. However, I had every intention of going to BritMums Live again. It’s the one blogging event that I know I will enjoy and get to catch up with some good friends too.

It’s a date I pencil in from one year to the next and as the date loomed up I started to think about childcare and organisation. That was when Coca Cola invited me to their symposium on the Friday afternoon. They had a brand new product they wanted to share with me.

Luck would have it that Friday is my day off so off I went for an afternoon tea get together in the Montcalm Hotel.

I learnt that Coca Cola has been going since the 1900’s in the UK and that Selfridges was their first point of sale. I learnt that Lilt, Schweppes, Kia Ora, Dr Pepper and Smart Water are all under the same umbrella and that they have 6 factories dotted around the United Kingdom to make their products, cutting their carbon footprint.

I remembered when in 1983 they launched Diet Coke which has no sugar in it. I have to say this is my favourite of all their Colas and I learnt that since then 27 of their drinks have since been launched with no sugar.

A total of at least 30% of their drinks are mid – low calorie.

We talked a bit about Coca Cola Life, the one in the green packaging, have you tried it? That drink has 45% less sugar in it.

Then we touched upon Coca Cola Zero, launched in 2006 and proven to be very popular only some fans complained the taste wasn’t right. So the scientists and the production team re visited the recipe, and they adopted Stevia to add a sweet taste.

Coca Cola Tasting

Coca cola tasting

Then came the fun part of our symposium; four glasses were placed in front of us each cup holding a different Coca Cola and assigned a letter. We were asked to taste and guess which one was Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Coca Cola Life and Coca Cola Zero. You’d think that was pretty easy right? Wrong. I got two out of four and some of the tasters didn’t get any right.

You see by altering the recipe and including Stevia they have brought the Coca Cola Zero taste incredibly close to the red tin Coca Cola. Go try it and see for yourself. They have a brand new packaging which is very swish and eye catching. you’ll also be seeing TV ads, billboards and lots of online marketing too so if you feel tempted, I dare you to try it and let me know what you think.

BritMums Live 16

I’m so glad I went, I caught up with Jen and Susanna, spoke with Nadine who took over my editor role, and bumped into some of my very special online friends, too many to mention here. But my highlight of 2016 must be a one to one with Amanda Jennings where we sat and spoke about writing, the tricks and tools of the trade but that will have to be another post… she’s working on her fourth book you know.

Disclosure: Coca Cola kindly paid for my attendance at BritMums Live this year, they invited me to their symposium but all of the above is what I learnt from that meeting and my own opinion on the products.