My boys are on half term and so I have turned into the bacon sandwich and tea bearing hostess that I become when they are home. I spend the day jogging up and down the stairs with snacks, retrieving dirty laundry from the bathroom floor and driving to the train station to collect various friends who join the TV watching throng upstairs. Am I moaning? No. I absolutely love it.

In a blink, these days will be a dim and distant memory. My boys will be independent and gone from me and I shall yearn to find a stray sock on the stairs or to be called upon to whip up a cuppa.

Can you love your kids too much? I don’t think so. Outside of the house they are hard working, independent and kind so I figure a bit of spoiling once in a while does us all the power of good.

One of the boys has just completed his D of E Gold and on the day I collected him from school, he was siting on the pavement looking decidedly green around the gills, this is usually from a drop of over indulgence in the beer department but the cause of his pallor on this occasion was food poisoning!

I knew something was drastically wrong as he clambered into my trusty, rusty Golf and said, ‘I love you Mum.’ Such sentiment from him is usually only uttered when one of us has a drip in our arm! It transpires that he ate a sausage roll that had been dunked in the river “but only got a bit wet” on the first day, this was now day five and the offending pork product had been nestling in the bottom of a damp kit bag all the while – until he ate it for lunch. Even the thought makes my stomach jump and not only because I’m a raving vegetarian, as my husband likes to refer to me.

Poor old thing, he’d spent a day and night being rather ‘ill’ (I shan’t go into details) had limited sleep in a tent that “spun every time I lay down” and canoed 33k every day, stopping only to give in to his malaise at appropriate bends in the river. The poor thing.

He has however, learnt three valuable lessons. Firstly, it feels really good to achieve something in adversity. Secondly, don’t eat soggy, old, hot sausage rolls and thirdly, when your mum suggests you take Imodium, Dioralyte and wet wipes on your trip, you shouldn’t raise your eyebrows in irritation and ignore her. Just saying.

My new novel Christmas for One has been released this week and I am so very grateful for the lovely reviews – THANK YOU! I wanted to write something that was good to dip into and give us a lift when you need a break from rubbish weather, crowded shops and relatives that clog up your corridors. It’s a festive romance set in New York and London that will give you a big ‘Aaaaaaah!’ with a few ‘Oooooooh!’s along the way.  You can check it out here Paperback is out Nov 20th – exciting! X

Next week I shall be giving a talk at Bath Waterstones; Thursday 30th October – an evening of chat about books, cancer, kids, cake and all the other things that clutter up my mind! Tickets are 3 pounds, there’s a glass of plonk included and it kicks off at 6.30 – come and say hi if you can, it would be lovely to see you. Details and tickets from the lovely Leon on 01225 448515 – it’ll be fun!

The Apprentice has started but I am still mourning the end of The Great British Bake Off and can’t commit to another series. I miss Nancy on the telly! – Someone give that woman a series. She is our very own Martha Stewart and I for one would tune in every time! Chetna could make an appearance too – they would be a dynamic duo! All those in favour say ‘Aye!’

We need more lighthearted banter, baking and good old-fashioned common sense on the TV and Nancy is the woman to provide it. Goodness me, the news is so horrid most of the time I think it would be the perfect antidote in a world gone mad.

One of my boys turns 18 this week and so we are having his family party on Sunday. The husband as you know sounds like a pirate and has decided to bury treasure in the garden and give everyone a treasure map. All good so far.

I would however like to point out that we live in a new build just off the M5 and our garden is the size of a table. This is the first problem, 16 family members with shovels will very quickly destroy our precious lawn. Secondly, he decided in his wisdom to bury the ‘treasure’ yesterday, at dusk. No, I don’t know why either. He is now not ENTIRELY sure where he buried it.  I have visions of something resembling a mole fest while determined kids search in the mud for the booty. And the final problem is that if they ARE successful in digging up his old biscuit tin, they are going to be most disappointed to discover a chocolate coin and an old button. In future, think we’ll stick to charades…

Sending you love and to steal a quote from Christmas for One ‘You have to live this life, this one life that you have been given and if that means following your heart and taking a risk, then that’s what you should do. If you don’t, you might regret it forever…’

Mandy xx