I’ve been listening to Radio 2 a lot this week whilst I’ve been commuting and travelling to meetings.

They are using this week to highlight loneliness, and to explore what it is exactly that is causing this silent epidemic that seems to be gripping so many British adults these days.

The theme has really struck a chord with me, as loneliness is a feeling that I’m all too familiar with, sadly – a feeling that I first experienced when I started University back in 2002.

I had gone from a small town in Lancashire, where I’d spent the past 7 years with pretty much the same people every day of my life to the comparatively huge city of Liverpool where I knew no one and felt like a complete fish out of water.

I felt so lost that my friends could have been a million miles away (they were actually just in Lancaster and Leeds – but still!). I felt like I’d been dumped on Mars and there was no one I could talk to. My flatmates were lovely – they really were. But they weren’t my friends and I wasn’t at home.

I spent my days wondering if I’d made the right decision and my nights wondering why I didn’t feel like going out like everyone else did. Everyone else was having a great time, they were making loads of new friends, they were brilliant. Was I an oddball? Why couldn’t I enjoy myself? Why couldn’t I make any friends? I decided that it just wasn’t for me. The loneliness I felt, even in a crowded room, used to swallow me up and I would often cry myself to sleep.

How I got through those first six months I don’t really know (my poor mother’s phone bill must have been huge!). But I did get through it, and after that first Christmas I snapped myself out of it and I started going out and having fun. Making a real effort. Making friends on my course and getting to know my flatmates – who I was certain thought I was a complete weirdo by that point, but who made me laugh and helped me overcome my loneliness.

One thing I often regret is not talking to anyone about how I felt back then. I kept lots of things to myself and I think that probably stopped me making friends more than anything else.

I often think that, because I didn’t really talk to people much, they must have thought I was such a moody sod. That I didn’t want to join in or that I was boring (reality hits: perhaps I was!). When really, all I wanted was someone to talk to me properly. To laugh with me and to be my friend.

It was good to hear on one of Jeremy Vine‘s show’s this week that I wasn’t alone in how I felt back then. So many students go through the same thing. We didn’t have Social Media back then (just MSN Messenger and some crazy new fangled website called MySpace!) so keeping in touch with friends was much more difficult than it is now – but I caught trains and traveled all over the country to catch up and re-connect whenever possible. And it was like we’d never been away from each other. Loneliness gone. 

I’m thankful now that I can say that I haven’t really experienced loneliness on that level since those early days of University.

There have been times, especially in those long winter months after having Ruby (being at home all day with a baby, no adult company and no family or friends close by to call on or help out), when it all became a little too much and loneliness began to creep in again…but that’s when I would get out, send a message to one of my new NCT group friends and head out for cake.

Glorious cake! Cake solves lots of problems.

I was still lonely (almost 1/4 of first-time mothers in the UK admit that they feel lonely after having a baby), and there were days when it was really difficult but the difference this time was that I talked to people about how I was feeling – I spoke to people who told me that they felt the same!

And a problem shared became a problem halved, literally.


So…I guess what I am trying to say is that feeling lonely does not make you unusual. This week has definitely taught me that. Finally. After all these years.

No one should ever feel like they can’t admit that they feel lonely.

And what I want you to know is that if you ever feel lonely, let me know and we’ll sort that right out!






spring fling. 

Last Sunday I did something I’ve been very excited about for a very long time…

I visited the Fabulous Places Spring Home, Food & Gift Market. 

Child free. 

And with a lovely friend. 

It was awesome. 

I’ve followed Deb at Fabulous Places for quite a while now (on Instagram, not actually followed her, that would be beyond weird) and have always wanted to go to one of the markets she organises. 

So when my lovely friend Michelle (of delicious cake company Pea Bakes Cakes), who lives in Derby where the market is held, said she fancied coming along with me I was over the moon. 

We weren’t disappointed! 

The venue, The Roundhouse, was fantastic. It’s a glorious old building that used to be used as a turning house for choo choo’s (sorry, I can’t actually use the word train anymore. Henry won’t let me!) and is now the perfect place for events like this. 

I loved the atmosphere, it was bustling but not too busy, and everyone just seemed super pleased to be there. 
The stalls were laid out beautifully. 

All independent, owner/maker managed and all so friendly and nice. I could have chatted to each and every single one of them for days, they were all so passionate about their product. 

I fell in love with a few in particular:

The Thomas-Coles

Handmade in Lancashire (Darwen to be exact…the next town over from where I’m from!) by a lovely couple who are passionate about fragrance. 

I bought a Pomello candle. 

Can’t. Stop. Smelling. It. 

Florence & Bow 

I could have bought everything on this stall. They have a shop in Leicestershire as well as an online presence. Look them up for lovely wall hangings, toptastic telephones and awesome trinkets for your house! 

Little Paperie
I love stationery. I just do. Always have done. Always will. 

And this stationery is the best I think I have ever seen. Seriously gorgeous little shop based in Ashbourne selling the most quirky, beautiful stationery and cards. They also offer Annie Sloan Chalk Paint workshops and are so lovely. I have tried and failed a few times to get to their shop (my fault entirely!) so getting to meet the girls behind #flamingofridays at the market was fab! 

As well as the most lovely home and gift stalls there were so many good food stalls. Pies. Bread. Ice Cream. Artisanal Toasties. 


I couldn’t get near any of the cakes to take good enough pics, but if weight was gained by just looking at cake I wouldn’t have fit back in the car at the end of the day that’s for sure! 

It was a great day, and I’m so glad that we found the time to get there. Life is often hectic and we usually put the children first, so it was nice to do something just for me for a change. 

There’s a Summer market on 2nd July, again at The Roundhouse. 

I will be going. 

Oh yes I will. 

Have you ever been to a Fabulous Places market? What did you think? Would you like to know more? 

Share your thoughts in the comments! 


I sent the message on a Saturday at 6.45am, apologising for sending it so early.

We’re nearly all mothers now, so really I have no idea why I apologised for sending a message so early. I knew full well that the majority of them would already be awake, but you know, I was probably trying to be polite!¬†

I was asking them for a photo of themselves.

A photo that captures who they are.

A photo of each one of the most special people that I am lucky enough to call my friends**

Friendship is a wonderful thing, isn’t it!?

I’m so lucky to have found so many great friends throughout my life…and to still have them now, after so many years.

I’ve had to call on my friends so much recently. Their input and their ears have been invaluable during what has been a really difficult few years, and I value their friendship more now than ever – so I wanted to celebrate them!

I love that I still have friends that were my friends at primary school and that, even though I now live so far away from them (and hardly ever see them), they are still my friends and I know that if I ever needed them they would be there.

St. Wilfrid’s CE High School brought me some of the best friends I will ever have. 7 years is a long time to get to know people – the highs and lows of teenage life brings fights and fall-outs, but these were some of the most fun and best years of my life. The common room that no longer exists was where I found myself, and where I cemented friendships that will last forever more…

University found more friends coming on board, very few of them are still in my life but thanks to the wonders of Facebook and Instagram I can see what they’re up to and it’s lovely to share in their moments of joy and pride…

And then there was Vauxhall. The best year of my life.
Friends…laughter…hangovers…work experience…debt…hangovers…
And the joy of that year still lightens my mood at even the darkest of times.

Because that’s what friendship is. And that’s what it does to you.

What is the saying, “There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger, and live just a little better”?

And that couldn’t be more true…

Hiding me from teachers in the common room…Eating bacon sarnies on break time…Eating so many Chupa Chups you think you might be sick…Singing to Bryan Adams waaaaaay too loud…Carrying me home after one too many…Laughing so hard it feels like your sides will split…Shooting down water slides in Gran Canaria…Calming me down in my angry moments…Listening to my hurts and making them better…Holding my babies and loving them so much…

And now, my work friends that have become so, so much more than just colleagues, and my fabulous, wonderful, amazing Mummy friends that keep me sane, invite us round for play dates that involve cake and Prosecco, take me out to the cinema to watch Bridget Jones, join me for cocktails and talk and talk and laugh and laugh until closing time…

To all my friends, near and far, thankyou.

Life without you all in it, in all your various shapes and sizes would be that much more difficult.

Thankyou for the fun.
Thankyou for the laughter.
Thankyou for being you.


What are your best friendship memories? I would love to hear them in the comments!

Speak soon, x

**I haven’t actually used any of the photos that they sent to me in this blog post – I have instead used far more embarrassing ones. That’s just how I roll!



the struggle.

Hi. My name is Kathryn. And it has been exactly four months since my last blog.


You see, I started oliphantum way back in March 2016 with the intention of blogging regularly and creating a little world through which I could get back a bit of “me”. Find my humour and get my creativity going again after having two children and spending a lot of time being poorly and at home.

But it wasn’t always that easy.

Two children is hard.

And why is it that, just like with birth and the first baby, no one actually bothers to tell you exactly how hard!?

No one tells you that sleep deprivation from two small people that don’t sleep feels like pins being consistently stuck into your eyes.

No one tells you that your first born will, at some stage, turn into a miniature Tasmanian devil and try to smother your newborn baby either with love or a pillow!

No one tells you that whilst you thought keeping up with laundry for three people was hell on earth, that doing it for four people will nearly kill you.

No one tells you that what little you had left of your former intelligence will most definitely stick two fingers up at you and leave at the first chance it gets, leaving you a blithering idiot that can only do one thing at a time and talk about nappies for approximately 19 months (I am at this point now – I may be wrong, and I may still be a blithering idiot!).

No one tells you that you will cry more after your second child. Perhaps because no one likes to talk about that part – but they should!!

Then there was my eldest starting school, me starting a new job AND a big house move…just because life didn’t seem hard enough!

Yep, the second half of 2016 was pretty much a disaster.
A really big struggle.

This isn’t a pity party. I’m not looking for sympathy. It just sometimes helps to actually tell people that it’s been hard work.

And that I haven’t coped very well with it.

At times I coped pretty darn badly to be honest.
Craaaaaaaazy woman would be a good name for me, and I’m sure that Mr O would agree.

Thankfully all the poorly in the world, all the stress, upheaval and general ridiculousness has helped me to see things a bit more clearly.

Two children is still going to be hard throughout 2017. Especially because Henry has now turned into a beast that likes to scream at me whenever I even suggest his nappy needs changing and Ruby has decided that she knows everything in the whole world and that I, actually, know nothing.

I don’t do resolutions as a rule. I am never going to give up chocolate and running is alright, but only in summer. So for 2017, here is my annual List of Stuff To Remember:

  • My children are not trying to (purposefully) drive me insane
  • I’ve had a toddler before and survived unscathed
  • Chocolate is good, but in moderation
  • My four year old is the most loving, kind and clever girl – everything we wished she would be
  • Siblings fight and argue,¬†it’s normal
  • Gin and Tonic is my friend
  • Work, although important, is not the be all and end all
  • Find the time to write my blog, because it’s fun and I enjoy it

But mostly I think I need to remember to count my blessings.

I need to remember that I am loved and that I love my family and friends so much. Nothing is worth forgetting that for. Not ever.

Here’s to a fantastic 2017.
Let me know what’s on your Stuff to Remember¬†list in the comments!

Speak soon x

nice to see you, summer.

So, it seems like summer has finally made an appearance on our shores. I can tell, mainly, because chaps that really shouldn’t walk around with no tops on are out there, flaunting their gross tattoos and/or beer bellies, as if they have never felt such heat and simply cannot possibly wear a t-shirt!

We spent a lot of time down at the park this week. And it was good.

Beacon Park is a really good park. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played on better…it’s no Witton Park (for the northerners reading!) but it’s good. And even better since they upgraded a few years ago.

Our children love it there. Henry probably loves it because there is a swing, so he could be anywhere really, but Ruby would always choose the “pirate ship park” over any other in this lovely little city of ours.


To swing is the thing…

There are two main areas to the park, one for under 11’s which features the “pirate ship”, funky rocking chickens, swings, slides and a climb aboard choo chop train that kids love…and though there’s no actual skull and crossbones on the ship it’s always been known as a pirate ship, and woe betide anyone who challenges Ruby on that one!

I was desperate for an ice cream this week. I wasn’t desperate to share that ice cream with Henry, but inevitably I had to! Payback was mine however when he took a massive bite and ended up with baby brain freeze and sore teeth, mwahahaha!


Right before the brainfreeze

I got used to applying suncream to wriggling, screaming children a long time ago (my nephew was king of squiggling…thanks Jacob!) but Henry is a different breed.

I think he does it on purpose.

Every time I got the suncream out on holiday he would start. Screams, wriggling, hitting…if he could walk, he would do everything possible to run away. And now we’re back he’s no different. Except in this country it’s harder as he’s usually in the pram or he’s fully clothed. Grrrrr!

Anyhoo, I’ve managed to get him in the eye each and every time this week. So he now has even more of an aversion to ye old suncream. Sigh!

Watching all the folks in the park it’s nice to see (and hear) the workings of normal family life. Yelling your child’s name across the park is not just something I do…and catching them trying to make a break for it isn’t either.

Neither is lugging a bag rammed full of crap, as I discovered chatting to Ruby’s best friends Dad today. Inevitably full of spare clothes, food, drinks, bobbles, plasters, hand cream, bottom cream, antiseptic cream, more cream, food, more food and WIPES I wonder when we’ll ever get to walk around care free again!?


Summer birthday parties

Still, we must make the most of it…the immortal words of parents everywhere. Make the most of it before the bloomin rain comes back!

And so, all being well, we’ll be back at the park again this week.

Fancy joining us?! Share your park stories in the comments or on Instagram or Facebook with #oliphantumparklife

Speak soon x


little losses.

Thursday was a very busy day for us this week.

We’re preparing Ruby for what’s to come this September.¬†And by this I mean “big school”. Primary School. Reception Class.

I, like every other parent who’s child is about to make this very big leap I’m sure, just cannot quite believe that it’s time for this already. And I actually feel quite sad about it all for a number of different reasons, but mainly for the many different little¬†losses that we’re about to suffer.

At 9.15am on this very busy of days, we dropped Ruby off for her longest ‘stay and play’ session yet. She would have 2 hours of play and settling in time with her new classmates at St. Chads before we would join her for lunch in the school hall.

The first loss. The loss of our Thursdays together. Once she starts school, the 3 years of spending each and every Thursday together having fun and visiting friends will be over.

11.30am came along and we queued with Ruby behind all the other little people to wait for our lunch, all the while desperately trying to push the thought of her having to manage to do this all by herself in just a few short months out of my head.

She chose vegetable pasta bake and chocolate cake and opted for a cup of water, and as I watched her do all this and then concentrate so hard on getting to a table without dropping it I was so proud, but also acutely aware of another little loss.

The second loss. The loss of her needing me for big things like this. Soon she won’t need me anymore. Not even to do the difficult things.

Once lunch was over and she’d had a little chat with the teacher (the lady with the blonde hair, as she’s known!) we hopped off to pre-school for Graduation Day.

Humpty Dumpty Day Nursery and Pre-School has pretty much been Ruby’s second home since the age of 12 months when I had to return to work after maternity leave. It’s probably not right to admit that but, just as we spend more time at work than at home, if we have to return to work then our children spend a great deal of their lives in childcare settings. Getting it right is therefore essential.

Humpties is a fantastic nursery. And the pre-school is brilliant for Ruby. She has loved it there, and formed some super special friendships…Erin, Luca, Hannah, Jamie…these are the first real friends she has ever had.

The third loss. The loss of the most lovely little group of friends that my daughter has become so attached to. The friends that have helped her to develop and prepare for the big wide world.

How she will get over the loss of Erin especially I do not know. Her best, best friend for years now Erin will be heading to a different school…and I don’t know yet if it’s quite clicked that she won’t be seeing her every day any more. These two are the most beautiful, funny little friends you ever will see. The troublesome twosome that are actually so good for each other, laugh great big belly laughs at each other and help each other with everything. It will definitely be our responsibility to ensure they carry on seeing each other as the years tick by.

Me being me, I honestly didn’t see the point in a Graduation Day. Another Americanism creeping on in. Graduating nursery seemed pretty silly. But I was more than happy to be proved wrong as I watched the little ones accepting their scrolls and posing for photos with the staff¬†before raiding the sweetie bar and laughing their bellies off at the comedy magician. It was a truly special afternoon. It made me laugh. It made me cry.

One of the wonderful things about nursery and pre-school I guess, is that as a parent you’re still so involved in everything. I stand there every afternoon when I collect her listening to what she’s been doing throughout the day; what she’s eaten, who she’s played with. And it dawns on me that come September I won’t get any of that information anymore…

The fourth loss. The loss of almost total knowledge about my daughter. No longer will I get to find out everything about her day…instead it will just be the bits of information she feels necessary to tell me. I’ll sit there every evening desperate to know what’s been happening, how she’s been feeling, who she has played with. And I can only hope that she’ll still want to tell me!

September will come around so quickly now that the summer is here (ha! there’s a laugh!) and as I sit here thinking of all these little losses, all of the incredibly exciting bits are popping into my head too…

  1. Learning to read – Ruby is so excited to learn to read so that we can “read the bestest stories together”
  2. Learning to write – so “I can write down all the stories in my head Mummy”
  3. Making new friends – I think she is most excited about this one
  4. School uniform – Ruby can’t wait to pull on the St Chads cardigan we’re buying for her. I can’t wait to see her in pinafore dresses, summer dresses and frilly white socks!
  5. School trips – she saw a class on a school trip to the zoo when we went for her birthday and got so excited about where she might go with her class
  6. Growing up – because, whilst I would happily keep her as my baby forever, growing up is so exciting and I cannot wait to see the wonderful little girl she becomes.

Maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

Maybe it will even be fun.

Speak soon, x