How to…

…move house.

Let me first say dear readers that I am writing this from my sick-bed, cough, cough. But the marvellous invention of the laptop means that I don’t have to be out of bed to write things down – why do you think I want to be a writer so much?

Alas, one thing you really can’t do from the comfort of your big warm bed, is move house. So here are my five tips for doing such a thing:

  1. Do you have sherry? You’ll be needing a big bottle of sherry before you commence any part of this process.
  2. Bribe and beg those you love to help you. I mentioned in a previous blog post mental breakdowns and that I had one when facing the prospect of trying to single-handedly move all of Chris and mine’s stuff from one residence to another. After said breakdown my beautiful family rallied around me and made sure that I wasn’t trying to do such a momentous and stressful thing alone. I also had some truly wonderful friends come and lug boxes with me just out of the kindness of their own hearts (and on the understanding they would be paid in wine and oven pizzas). Don’t try to do this alone. Bets are that you have lovely family and friends, ask for their help and give it to them when they ask too. What else are we all here for?
  3. Label your boxes. If I had to choose one thing that moving house taught me, it’s that I live in a world of “misc”. The only thing I could actually specifically label my boxes as was “books”, they all went in together, everything else was “misc”. Sometimes it was specific misc (paradoxical), like “kitchen misc”, “fragile misc”, “dressing table misc”, etc. but mostly just “misc”. It really didn’t help when we came to un-packing said boxes, but I’m pretty sure that the next time we move exactly the same thing will happen all over again.
  4. Helpers like tea and biscuits. The first thing you should bring into your new home is a lovingly packed little box filled with a few cups, a kettle, tea and coffee, a selection of biscuits, a little flask of milk and a sugar for those who don’t care about dental cavities.
  5. This is my favourite one. BUY A CAT! I have been waiting for YEARS to own my own cat/s and now after almost a decade of getting misty eyed over cat videos, and friends and family buying me cat birthday cards (often, in fact, the same card) I will finally be the owner of TWO beautiful CATS! As soon as we signed on the dotted line I started looking for some feline friends and they’ll be chez CooperKelly by the end of october – I’M SO EXCITED! So I urge you, lovely, wonderful, beautiful readers – buy some cats.
Burmese Kitten
My Catbaby Gustav

These are my most important pieces of advise for buying a house – go forth and apply them as you will but always with affection, responsibility and cats.

Burmese Cats
Noor and Gustav

Can’t wait to write How To Bring Up Catbabies…


…has become a bit Jewish.

So what I was going for in this picture was 1940s Land Girl on her day off…

Jewish dress!

…And what I actually ended up with is Anne Frank. This actually happens to me surprisingly often, in fact I’ve managed to convince a lovely man from my work that I am in fact of the Jewish faith/heritage/culture and even though recently I got the female (bat mitzvah) and male (bar mitzvah) mixed up he still believes me.

I actually asked my Grandpa whether there was any Jewish in my ancestry – I was so sure there would be (if you saw my dad you would really understand) but he informed me that actually on my father’s side I come from a whole load of English gun makers right back to 16hundredandareallylongtimeago and on my mama’s side I know that I biologically come from a bunch of North Walian Celtics and mentally from a crazy but completely wonderful German lady and her Liverpudlian soldier. Which all begs the question: where is the Jew?! It turns out I am the Jew, and once Chris and I create children with both of our noses we’ll have a whole little casbah family too!

That’s something to look forward to.

Dress up…

…on a whole new level.

So I did a little bit of sewing at a teenager and enjoyed it so my mama kindly bought me a sewing machine, but then being a teenager got in the way (it’s a full-time commitment) and the sewing machine was left desolate. However, in reading some of my #FridayFashions blog post you may have noticed that I’ve had a life long habit of dressing up and I recently realised that instead of trawling through shops to find clothes I could adapt into costumes it would be so much easier if I was actually making the clothes!

So I dusted off my trusty sewing machine, bought myself a simple pattern and set to work. It’s been going pretty well and I’m having the best time working on my home-made clothes and costumes. So here’s a taster of what I’ve been making so far…and what’s still to come!

Starting the sewing process

The sewing process

The finished product!
Day time flapper
Deck chair top!
The deck chair top

Sew your own top

Make your own top
Bit of red zip back detail

Still to come

As you can see whilst my first few projects have been moderately successful I have plenty more to be getting stuck into, including my Elizabeth Montgomery Bewitched 1950s nightie, my 1940s Land Girl outfit, my Kick-Arse Lady Pirate Captain costume and some tweedy fabric winter dresses!

Crack on!

“So they’re giving me life insurance but excluding any services I might be likely to need it for?”…

…”Pretty much, yeh.”

I BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!! And it’s frikin awesome…but it was bloody hard work getting here! From the very beginning it was hugely overwhelming and frustrating, from the mortgage company getting upset that I’m known as Milly not Emily, to the life insurance company refusing me life cover because I’ve been to see a GP about anxiety in the past five years (Legal and General – I’m an interesting, complicated, well-rounded person with a few issues – bite me). I eventually got life insurance with a different provider but with a special clause added saying that I couldn’t claim for anything in any way related to mental illness – the thing I’m most likely to need it for.

Morris the Moose

Anyhoo, I’m not the only person who’s had to go through this crap and our lovely, thoughtful government is only making it harder so I thought I’d impart my ‘wisdom’ – in Tips for Buying a House in 5 Concise Bullet Points (standard Milldew-ness):

  1. Do you have sherry? You’ll be needing a big bottle of sherry before you commence any part of this process.
  2. Do you have an Independent Financial Adviser? I think you should probably get one. Well actually, if you’re the kind of person that looks at interest rates and get’s excited then you could probably go it alone, but if you look at interest rates and think “don’t cry, don’t cry” then you’ll probably benefit from some expert advise. There are some banks and mortgage providers who don’t deal with IFAs (HSBC, for example) but I don’t think we could have gotten a better deal than the one we have now, in fact I don’t think we would have bought a house without the help of our lovely IFA (dear Paolo, great guy). Being a first time buyer, especially in these times is tough, and as much as parents or elders can help with advice and guidance, the truth is that getting a mortgage these days is a completely different ball game than it was for the older generation. In fact I’d go as far as saying it no longer involves a ball at all – more like a javelin.
  3. Ever wondered why solicitors earn so much money? You’re about to find out. It would probably be cheaper and easier to marry a solicitor and then get them to buy you a house than it is to actually employ one for the purpose. My advice is to save your first time buyer bootie off. If, by some wonderfully fortuitous circumstance, or just some serious hard graft, you have ended up with a deposit for a house then DON’T STOP SAVING. The deposit is only the start my friends.
  4. Have you stopped saving? DON’T STOP SAVING. Even if you buy a house that hardly even needs a wall painting all of a sudden you’ll start to realise that there’s all this stuff you need to buy to live in the house. Chris and I have just bought a Victorian Settle – with lions on the arms – just to take our shoes off when we get home! It’s ridiculous! Perhaps we went a little far BUT when you put all the really cheap stuff you bought from Ikea when you first left home and have been supplementing with other really cheap stuff from The Range ever since in a house, you all of a sudden realise that it’s all rubbish. Which brings me onto point number five…
  5. Hold out for the good stuff. And definitely stay clear of shops like Next. You’ll be tempted in your tired and frazzled, box-carrying stupor to think “right, I just need a wardrobe, I’m just going to go somewhere where I know there’ll be a wardrobe so I can buy a wardrobe”, so you trundle off down to Next and look at a wardrobe that’s alright and you quite like, bit flimsy but it’ll do and then look at the price and see that its 789 British pounds! For a wardrobe that would go straight through the bottom if you got in it (good test for any piece of furniture – is it strong enough for you to stand in it or on it – we never let Chris do this test – the man’s 6ft5, I’m not even sure if I could fit him in Narnia let alone the wardrobe you’ve got to crawl through to get there). Therefore my advise would be to wait a little – it’s never fun to live out of bags (or in my case – piles) but you’ll be in this house for a while, it’s worth taking your time over what goes in it. In the end Chris and I purchased an epic and HUGE Victorian wardrobe from an antiques place for half the price of the pli-wood piece of crap we found in Next – well worth the wait.

Choosing wallpaper

Buying a house is a different experience for everyone but the amount of stress is probably similar, as it the amount of sheer excitement at owning your own little space of the world – and being able to decorate it like a C.S Lewis children’s story.

Veuve Cliquot
Celebrating the proper way!

“Find a paper bag”…

…”who has paper bags just lying around their house?”

So during the past few months I have quit one job, taken up another, found a house to buy, applied for a mortgage, failed a valuation, finally successfully completed on said house (get in), applied for buildings, contents and life insurance (twice). I then tried to single-handedly pack up the entire contents of my flat and move it into the new house in the space of a week and a Ford Fiesta. All of this with a Fiancé who (whilst being completely lovely) spends 15 weeks of the year in the Far East (thus the single-handedly thing).

This (rather unsurprisingly) culminated in me having a rather beautifully spectacular mental/emotional breakdown/meltdown, which resulted in me learning how one copes with a beautifully spectacular mental/emotional breakdown/meltdown. So I thought I’d share this with you because inevitably everyone at some point (or quite a few points) will  (if they are nice, normal humans) suffer a beautifully spectacular mental/emotional breakdown/meltdown, when this happens I’d like you to know that you’re not alone, which is what a blogging is all about 🙂

  1. Know that you’re not alone! You’re one of thousands upon thousands of people who are all currently sitting in a small messy ball shape rocking back and fourth and sobbing – potentially over something as simple as you tripped over a box, or you got your handbag handle caught on a door handle, or you smashed a nice wine glass – this is more commonly known as the Last Straw.
  2. Don’t stop rocking! People will tell you to stop, that it makes you look worryingly mental, but at this point you are worryingly mental and the rocking feels nice and what you need right now is to feel nice. Keep going – its comforting.
  3. Call the person you trust most in the world.
  4. Find a paper bag (I know, this one isn’t easy – try sandwich bags?), it helps with the hyperventilation – something to do with Carbon Monoxide being good for you for once – I wasn’t listening to much when that explanation came.
  5. Whatever you were doing when you finally snapped (probably one of what felt like several million things to do) just stop doing it. It’s really not worth it.
  6. Instead – put on your pyjamas, the best ones, the ones you don’t wear unless you’re completely alone because they are so humiliating but soooo comfy.
  7. Go and moisturise your nose. Even the balsmy tissues aren’t going to stop that soreness.
  8. At this point in many of my blogs (as you may have noticed) I normally recommend some alcohol related medication, but not this time! This time I recommend eating. Make your favourite meal – whatever it is – you’ve earned it (mine was spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce a Caesar salad with chicken kievs instead of breasts – chicken breasts – reminds me of my uni days).
  9. Now take this meal to bed (I always recommend eating in bed), put your favourite TV show on, enjoy your favourite meal and give yourself a sodding break.
  10. Get a good nights sleep – things always feel a little better when you feel rested and in the clean, fresh light of the morning. As Max Erhmann says: Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

The only thing I can’t give you advice on is how to stop your eyes looking the size and colour of cricket balls – try sleep may be…and shit loads of concealer.

Milly happy in the sea

Read the whole poem that I have quoted from here.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Stepping Stones Engagement Photo


See the post that this poem relates to here.