The Guardian

  • I was clicking a link that should have taken me to a review of a children’s book, when my computer screen flooded with porn. I couldn’t close the window fast enough or – judging by the speed with which other family members flocked to find out what on earth was wrong – shriek loudly enough. It was like the time I was stung by a bee and a neighbour not only heard, but was so concerned she knocked on the door to check no one needed an ambulance.

  • Even if you’re sure you’d hate camping, I recommend you try it at least once. Because after camping you’ll notice aspects of every other holiday will have elements of luxury, from packing and unpacking to showering and sleeping.

    I can’t remember my first camping trip. I grew up with a mother committed to ensuring her children saw as much of their home state as possible, even if this involved excessively long drives to the middle of nowhere. I was also a Brownie then a girl guide. I liked camping, I had friends who liked it, later I married a guy who liked it, and we had kids who did too.

  • The problem of what to buy a loved one who seems to have everything they’d ever want is one many of us face each year, as is a desire to avoid spending beyond our means, or contributing to landfill. But there’s an alternative. If a person is hard to buy for, don’t buy them anything. Make something instead. What matters is the thought.

    You might hear the words “make something instead” and think of spray-painted pasta necklaces and collages that contain more glue than shells; or of people who can actually knit things that other people actually want to wear.

  • I was packing for a weekend away with several other families when I made the mistake of thinking a bottle of red wine would be safest rolled up in a sleeping bag.

    I didn’t know most of the families going but I knew the instigators, and that they’d have gathered a great crowd. Those other families probably thought so too – until ours showed up, reeking of wine, in the middle of the day.

  • One of the biggest shocks I had this year wasn’t the sound of my car scraping against another car, and the realisation that, in an absent moment, I’d gone straight into someone else’s lane instead of turning left. It was what happened next.

    I pulled over and started vomiting apologies on to the driver of the ute I’d just scraped. I was sorry, it was completely my fault, I had no idea what I’d been thinking, or rather, I clearly hadn’t been thinking, at least not about the task at hand…

  • There’s a story our year 11 and 12 students are hearing, one I heard at that age too, that isn’t true. The details change, but the take-home point is the anxiety-inducing idea that what they’ll do with “the rest of their lives” is a decision they must make now or very soon and that failing to make “the right choice” will have disastrous consequences.

    The myth is so pervasive that they might not question it; might fail to stop and realise there is no singular “right choice” or that the “wrong” choice or even score needn’t rule out future flourishing.

  • One of the most memorable birthday parties I’ve hosted was also one of the easiest and cheapest. Our eldest son was turning five and wanted to invite his whole class. I wasn’t willing to host a party with more than 20 five-year-olds, but I was willing to invite them for a play in our back garden after school.

  • As a journalist, I often have days when I just work for my employer. A story is assigned to me, I write professionally, impersonally, efficiently – and then I have days when I write for myself; I choose what I want to say and how, and who to send it to for publication.

    One is productive. It consistently results in published work and payment. The other is hit and miss. Rejection and self-doubt abound…

  • I sat our three (primary-aged) children down the other day and told them … Actually, that’s not true. I didn’t even try to sit them down. But I did catch their attention when they all happened to be in our kitchen/living area at various stages of getting ready for school…

  • I heard some good news recently. My 91-year-old grandfather called me to test his new hearing aid. For the first time in a long time, he could hear my voice. It thrilled us both.

    He and my grandmother had been trying to replace his previous hearing aid for more than a month but confusing instructions, impatient explanations and faulty hardware…

  • Christmas is fast approaching, but you could be forgiven for wanting to slow down your purchases. With the rise of the mindful, minimal-waste consumer, many are looking for gift-giving options that don’t cost the earth. Enter, the pre-Christmas stuff swap.

  • According to a friend of mine, when I talk about feeling embarrassed, ashamed or misunderstood, my hands become claws and I run them down my face with exaggerated angst. I hadn’t realised I did that but as soon as she said it I knew it was true.

    While still performing that move, we identified another: reeling in rope, cast too far out, at frantic speed. Both feature often when I talk about my writing – about the risk of sharing words I might regret.