There’s a scene in I Hate Suzie, the eight-series dark comedy creation from Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble, where heroine Suzie sashays along the street, claiming that her relationships with men are secondary only to her first love, her beautiful female friendship. In the next scene, her best friend and agent breaks the news that she’s deserting her and going to Iran.

It turns the trope of the perfect female friendship on its head and not a moment too soon. In too much popular culture, friendships between women are presented as either a foil to the principle male story line…

Pregnancy loss is not some cathartic, therapeutic growth experience for a couple. It’s grief.

Candles — Luigi Mengato — NoDerivs 2.0

One of the most common platitudes about pregnancy loss is that it will make you stronger as a couple.

What this skims over, of course, is that it can also make you more fragile. The image of strength conjured up was one where husband and wife would enter a chrysalis of grief, holding each other’s hands, communicating and emerging some time later united, stronger, drawn together in understanding. The reality, at least for us, was more complicated.

Pregnancy loss is not some cathartic, therapeutic growth experience for a couple. It’s grief. It’s debilitating. No one would expect you to personally…

Nhatatvideo — NoDerivs 2.0

The days since March 23rd have unfolded in a very similar way. I wake up at around 7am, then take a walk in the woods with my husband. An unbroken week of sunshine has lit the twigs atop the bare trees and turning the morning mist golden morning after morning. Once home, I read, cook, have a bath, and write. Perhaps in the afternoon I head out again for another walk. …

Cheering: Quinn Dombrowski Dream — NoDerivs 2.0

A delivery driver called at my door in yesterday. He wore a mask and gloves, practically threw the package at me and ran.

This man risked contact with me, so that I could have the pleasure of unwrapping my glossy new hiking boots, a gift to myself to make my self isolation easier. A gift for walking in the quiet woods, for looking down and admiring their soft leather, the way they can splash through puddles.

This man and many others are essential workers. They are risking their own lives so that the mechanics of society can continue to function…

Dream— Ivan NoDerivs 2.0

I have been writing a book for the past five years. Interested in what this process is like? I’ll tell you.

My book idea came to me in 2013. When I say ‘came to me’, it felt like a calling. Seventy five years ago my 12-year-old grandmother walked out of Burma to seek refuge in India during the Second World War, leaving behind everything she held dear, from her kitten to her own father. I write more about this here.

Once in India, a few years older, she fell in love with one of the sons of the Nizam of…

Killiemore and rear stables, viewed from the air. Image: author’s own

I have never seen a ghost. However I have heard one. And I will remember it until my dying day.

My great grandparents bought Killiemore just after the Second World War. A gigantic, stone pile, it stood in mature forest in Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish borders. To reach it, you would drive for three miles from the village of Kirkcowan, whereupon you turned into the drive, passing the gate lodge, then crossing two high bridges, one over the black waters of the river Bladnoch, another spanning a steep gully. The forest would then close its branches over your head…

It's only for now you know — Hidden Eloise NoDerivs 2.0

When you can no longer count your miscarriages on one hand, it’s a matter of time before you think you’re having one even when you’re not. This happened to me, in an Airbus 380–800, thirty-five thousand feet over the Atlantic. I’m writing this partly to clear my conscience (I’d like to apologise to everyone involved), but also to show it doesn’t always need to be sad. Sometimes, at least, there is comedy to be found even in the darkest moments of this conception journey. Anyone going through the same may recognise this…

August, 4.30am GMT

My mouth is dry, my…

The cast ain't so nice this year

Love Island — where do I even start? The first weeks of the fifth series is so crammed with toxic, unhelpful and unhealthy behaviour I’m going to need subheadings to start addressing the different themes here. However it’s the general public’s reaction to this that seems badly uninformed. Uninformed about bullying, uninformed about controlling behaviour, uninformed about sexual predators.

So without further ado, subheading number one:

Amy bullying Lucie

Amy (queen bee girl) has a problem with Lucie (pretty, surfer girl).

Day one of trekking the Cochamo Valley

The old shepherd shook his head with an air of studied regret. Our horses blew and stamped, but his decision appeared final.

“Bueno,” said our guide, Favian, and swung his black mare Cubanita’s head in the direction of the river valley and the darkening night. “We will ride ten minutes from here and camp.”

My husband and I followed to the rhythm of the squeak of the saddle and the clink of the bit. We were tired, and without the shepherd’s hospitality we faced unpacking in the dark and a long wait for dinner.

In four days of riding through…

Clement127: Flower searching NoDerivs 2.0

My husband and I were driving back from the airport one streetlight-soaked, shadowy and windblown night. A fight was brewing. We had had a parking ticket. I was tired and cross, he was tired and cross. I wanted to talk about my annoyance, but he was monosyllabic and his hands gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.

We were turning into our street now. A steep, downward tumble of apartment buildings all coloured in the same, orange, nighttime glow. I opened my mouth and started to press him about a money issue that needed sorting.

He exploded.

I exploded back.

The Barrenness

Writing about life, love, miscarriage and what can blossom in between.

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