Hello Stranger!


My WordPress updates tell me that I have neglected my blog for six months now. My stats also tell me that there are still folk dropping by from time to time, so I figured it would be rude not to also pop in and post a little update!

I’ve been lying low over recent months in an attempt to get myself back to full health. About a year ago I suffered from a spinal fluid leak that is unfortunately ongoing. I managed to rupture the membrane that surrounds my spinal cord and brain allowing the fluid that supports my brain to leak out, causing all sorts of weird and not so wonderful symptoms. This is considered a rare condition but CSF Leaks are frequently misdiagnosed and misunderstood in the medical and wider world, suggesting that they may not be as unusual as previously thought, and can be completely life changing and debilitating. The cause of a CSF Leak can be iatrogenic, traumatic (car accident etc), or spontaneous – thought to be due to weakened connective tissue due to another underlying condition. Mine however, is suspected to be due to general wear and tear on my spine causing bone spurs (or osteophytes) which may have been wearing this membrane thin during various activities and exercise. Think of stretching a carrier bag to the point that you can poke a finger through it! A charity has recently launched in the UK to spread awareness and fund raise – please drop by and have a look: http://www.csfleak.info/ There are also lots of ingenious ways that you can support the charity without even leaving your PC – whilst shopping online for example, via https://new.easyfundraising.org.uk. If you’re looking for a great cause to fundraise for, look no further : )

If you’d like to know more, here is an incredibly informative video too about CSL Leaks. It is long, but worth the watch!

Anyway, if you know me, you’ll know how active I was previously, packing every moment of life full, and you’ll also know that I’ve been giving my body a bit of a break to prevent making the leak worse. It’s impacted on my life in every way but I am still managing to do a great deal of the things that I love, and have replaced the more energetic pastimes with some new interests. I’m basically living life much more slowly and gently! A fellow ‘leaker’ has launched a fab Facebook page called ‘The Bee Happy Movement’ which documents the difficult journey through his own CSF Leak whilst maintaining an unrelenting positive approach to life. His page is full of inspirational and motivational quotes, reflections and good deeds – the intention is to make the world a better place and it is truly heartwarming.

Having said all that, I am still working, mediating disputes in SEN (Special Educational Needs) and I have visited a few schools with ‘Worm, Slug, Maggot and Leech‘ over recent months and am still creating the occasional ‘From Polly with Love’ artwork. And of course family life enriches every other corner of my life, keeps me constantly busy (and also on the verge of insanity!)


Find my personalised artworks on my Facebook page: Polly M Walker

I’m often asked if I’ll write a second book. In the light of everything above, I had decided to pop any future plans on hold, but my creative juices are bubbling again and I’m currently working on pulling together some ideas for a second book. This time I hope to collaborate with a fabulous illustrator…watch this space and I’ll post an update when there are some developments to report! In the meantime, check out the Britain’s Next Bestseller website here – the site has been revamped and there are lots of exciting things afoot!

As my blog as taken such a back seat over recent months, I haven’t been teaming up with ‘But Why Mummy Why’ to produce a #littleloves post. Morgana from ‘But Why Mummy Why’ has also been developing her own blog to encompass all things lifestyle. She has re-launched it under the name ‘Coffee Work Sleep Repeat‘. There are lots of lovely things to read about over on her page!

I’ve also been following the blog of a good friend’s 21 year old daughter who is dipping her toe in the world of travel blogging whilst exploring the world with her photographer boyfriend. You can read up on her adventures here, where she has been including lots of helpful advice for travel on a budget and essential things to see and do, all underpinned by her clear passion for animals and nature and accompanied by the most wonderful photography which is sure to make your feet itch!

At the end of last year we discovered geocaching and we’re addicted. I’ve bored so many people about it that I’ll just post the link: https://www.geocaching.com Be warned, if you love the outdoors and you love finding treasure (or your children do) you will be hooked very quickly!

Here are a few other discoveries we’ve made recently that are worth sharing. Click on the captions below for links…



Anyway, hopefully I’ve crammed enough into this post to make up for my silence over the past few months. Thank you for dropping by and I promise that I won’t leave it so long this time!

Polly xx


Do It Yourself Elf on the Shelf

I love ‘Elf on the Shelf’. It’s such a magical and fun way to count down the December days to Christmas, both for children and adults alike. But I must admit that I’m not crazy about it’s price-tag. So a couple of years ago I experimented with doing it myself. Here’s how.

Preparation Time: 

Initially 20 minutes then 5 minutes a day until Christmas

What you need:

  1. A favourite toy and / or a magical character – an elf, a fairy, for example but doesn’t need to be Christmas related. No need to buy anything, a favourite teddy coming to life will add to the magic, just make sure it’s not one that your child needs to take to bed or to nursery – you need access to it at all times!
We use Fairies!

We use Fairies!

2.   Some paper – as fancy as you want it to be. You can just use printer paper, or use           some coloured paper, add some stickers, sparkle etc or download a template.                 Google ‘A4 border template’ for example. Here’s a free download I found:

ppb3b473c2_023.  Some chocolate golden coins or other treats. Again, this can be as extravagant as you      want it to be! You need 1 a day (or as many as you like!) until Christmas per child.

Nom Nom...

Nom Nom…

4.  A lot of imagination and a sprinkle of magic dust….


As little as the cost of the treats you choose (golden coins are about £1 a bag) and the paper you use. Obviously the more you jazz it up, the more expensive it becomes!

How to do it: 

You don’t have to start on the 1st December. You can leave it until the week, or even a few days, before Christmas if you want to.

1) Write a creative letter for your child / children from the toy. It needs to explain that Santa has asked the toy to find out how amazingly-brilliantly-well-behaved they are being before Christmas, and has sprinkled some magic around the house to make some wonderful and amazing things happen. This is a good place to slip in anything you’re battling at the moment:

Santa has asked especially that you remember to use your listening ears!

Please try extra hard with brushing your teeth!

Can you try really hard with your homework?

Until Christmas, your child is going to receive a message each morning with a special ‘Santa Challenge’ on it for them to do that day. If they’re successful there will be a treat waiting for them at the end of the day! In the meantime, your toy is going to make the most of Santa’s magic and have some adventures around the house…

2) Write up the ‘challenges’ for your child. There should be one challenge per day. You can have a different task each day:


Please remember to try really hard to use your manners today! Remember to say please and thank you : )

Can you try and play with somebody at school today who is feeling a bit sad?

How about doing something helpful for Daddy today?

Can you be really brave today?

Can you have LOADS OF FUN today? 

Can you find a toy that you no longer play with to take to the charity shop? 

Or you might want to focus on a similar area throughout:

You tried really hard with your mealtimes yesterday. Today can you try a new food?

Yesterday you did brilliantly at trying a new food! Well done! How about today you remember to wash your hands before you eat?

3) Now you’re all ready to go. Day 1 – Morning:

Place your chosen toy somewhere with the ‘introductory letter’ – maybe at the breakfast table or in the Christmas tree – somewhere that it will be easily spotted. Remember to include the task for that day too. The children will be soooo excited that Santa has made their favourite toy come ALIVE! And has LEFT THEM A MESSAGE!!!


Position the toy somewhere so that it is somewhere unusual or doing something funny – hanging upside down in the Christmas tree, tucked up in bed reading a book, playing with the other toys, eating food etc. Remember to leave the chocolate coin or other treat too! Maybe leave a ‘well done’ note as well?

4) Day 2 and all other days:


Remember to position your toy somewhere so that it looks like it’s been making itself at home overnight! I’m sure you’ve seen the Elf on the Shelf ideas and will know that you can be very creative. Remember to leave the challenge for the day too! You can also leave extras: a sprinkle of fairy dust, some ‘footprints’, some writing on a notepad and so on. Here are some of the things our fairies have been up to:

Catching up on some light reading...

Catching up on some light                                   reading…

Getting to know the other members of the household!

Getting to know the other members of the                                       household!

Playing with the 'elfie stick

Playing with the ‘elfie stick

My favourite! Created on capturethemagic.com

My favourite! A little visit from Santa to see how it’s all going. Created on capturethemagic.com


Reposition the toy, not forgetting the chocolate coin! We sometimes leave an extra note in the evening if something amazing has happened that day, or even if it hasn’t been such a good day to remind the girls to keep trying their best!

Repeat every day until Christmas! 

A few days before Christmas:

Prepare another letter, saying that the magic will soon wear off, but before it does your toy wishes to congratulate your child for trying so hard. He will be reporting back to Santa that you have been very good this year! But remember not to be sad – he’ll still be staying with you until the magic returns in time for Christmas again next year!

Christmas eve:

Remember to leave the final letter out!

And finally –  feel particularly smug that you’ve done it all yourself, your children have had masses of fun and excitement, you’ve encouraged positive behaviour and gratitude in the meantime AND you’ve saved yourself at least £30!

What do you think? Am I being an utter Scrooge by not buying a proper Elf on the Shelf? Is it too much hassle to do it yourself? Or do you think it adds to the fun and magic? Let me know your thoughts!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Polly xx

My #littleloves: Jill Scott, Atticus Finch and Sarah Waters.

Hello there!

Thank you for stopping by. It’s been a good few weeks since I last posted… we’re finally getting back into routine after the holidays and it’s feeling very Autumnal here. I’ve been busy with lots of #littleloves:


I’ve been busy reading recently. My favourites are: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, a book group choice, which I couldn’t put down. Set in 1920s London, the story is based around a passionate love affair (yes, it’s quite a racy one!) that results in sinister consequences… it is gripping and probably one of my favourite reads in a while. I’ve also just whizzed through You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane which I loved. Witty, humorous and romantic – I can’t believe I haven’t read it until now.




I’ve got a couple of my personalised art works on the go at the moment. Here’s a gift for a birthday present that I have recently finished. If you’d like to have a peek at some of the others I’ve made, I have an album on my Facebook page which you can get to from here.



I’ve been a fan of Jill Scott for many years and I’m not disappointed by her most recent album, Woman. Soulful and beautiful. Love!



We’re really struggling to get into anything on the TV at the moment (hence the vast amounts of reading!) But I did go to the cinema to see ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ which I am ashamed to admit that I hadn’t seen before. I found the themes of race and prejudice, good and evil,  justice and discrimination were addressed beautifully and the film moved me deeply. I look forward to watching it with the girls when they are old enough to understand it.imgres-3


Warmer clothes! Brrr. And these – which I have come to realise are like Marmite, you either love them or hate them! I obviously love ’em, hubby doesn’t! They’re from Mint Velvet.

Alice Printed Plimsoll

Alice Printed Plimsoll


And finally… yippiee, it’s Friiidaaay!


Thank you for reading peeps! I’m currently taking  bookings to visit schools and other educational settings with my book… if you’re interested, please get in touch.

Much love,

Polly x


Do only children make good parents?

A child’s ability to surprise never ceases to amaze me. As a Mum of two young girls, I guess I’m stating the obvious. But I don’t think you have to be a parent – merely a human being – to acknowledge how babies, children and young people, have perfected the knack of astounding and horrifying us ‘grown ups’. They delight and they entertain, they fill us with a love we never thought possible, a joy so vast, and pride immense. Yet in the flick of a switch they can raise frustration so great we might burst, deliver guilt deeper than the darkest ravine, fear, impatience, and at times, utter desperation. And on top of that, they force us to repeatedly reflect on our own behaviours and emotions resulting in, yes, yet more surprise and bewilderment.

I consider myself lucky to be raising my girls in a generation where we are encouraged to talk about the difficulties of parenting, to share the tough days as well as the momentous and jubilant times beyond our partners and the family home. We form our allies during or pre-pregnancy and huddle in our NCT groups around steaming coffees and snoozing babies, sharing the highs and lows of childbirth and breastfeeding, a first tooth, the success – or lack of it – when weaning. Later, we sit on dusty community hall floors, grabbing a moment of conversation between verses of ‘this little duck went swimming one day’, sharing a disturbed night, a difficult phase, another uneaten meal, celebrating a first wee on the potty, first steps, first words. I cherish my memories of those early days with our girls and my support network of fantastic friends; some at the same stage of the parenting journey, and those outside it who provided a welcome distraction at times too.

Our girls are older now, yet a day doesn’t pass when I am overjoyed and challenged, sometimes overwhelmed, by the surprises they throw at us. And whilst I know that this is what parenting is all about, I still find myself utterly unprepared for the occasional curveball that they deliver.

Through no fault of their own, my children have forced a little uncomfortable contemplation about the fact that I’m an only child recently. You probably know about the stigma attached to only children. Apparently we’re selfish, spoiled brats. We’re lacking in social and emotional intelligence because we were overprotected during our upbringing. We’re basically disadvantaged from the word go, and having the label of ‘Only Child Syndrome’ stuck to us to explain any undesired behaviours does little to dispel the negative press.

Yes, it might have been nice to have a brother or sister to hang out with during school holidays and to confide in during the troublesome times of my Mum’s illness. Watching our girls grow together, sharing their achievements, roaring with laughter at their private jokes, wailing and quarrelling before cuddling and doing it all again is unquestionably beautiful, but it doesn’t prompt a deep rooted longing in me for a sibling or for my missed childhood experiences. If the truth be told, it isn’t something I’ve spent a great of time ruminating over the years. But during the long hot days of these summer holidays when the girls have been thrown together for weeks on end, when they’ve been forced to share their space, their toys, and the highs or lows of their moods, it has dawned on me that it’s something I never experienced and it has made me wonder: What am I not doing that I should be doing because I am parenting siblings and I wasn’t one? Am I too swift to intervene when a conflict arises? Am I too overprotective? Or do I give them too much space? Do they both feel loved equally? Does being an only child compromise my ability to be a good parent?

Watching them play together – best friends, greatest foes, and best friends again – it suddenly occurs to me. Yes, of course, they’re sisters, they’re siblings, they’re not only children. But like an only child, they are both individual. They have individual characters and individual needs. They each respond to different parenting strategies and require different levels of intervention and attention, and yesterday will be different to today, and today may be different to tomorrow, as they grow and tread their own paths and thrive in their own, individual ways.

I may be an only child. There may be a lot of bad press about only children. But try as I might, I can’t seem to find much to support the fact that ‘only children make bad parents’.

So I’m going to stop fretting about it and get back to mothering my girls: with their own individual and changing needs constantly in my mind and many a surprise up their sleeves. After all, they don’t care that I’m an only child. They only care that I’m their Mum.


Thank you very much for reading!

Polly x

If you enjoyed this, why not head over to Amazon and check out my children’s book:


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You can also check out my book news and latest artworks at:



Twitter: @pollymwalker

My #littleloves: puppet shows, junk modelling & girls uninterrupted.

Hi there!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve linked up with the lovely Butwhymummywhy to share my #littleloves for the week. In that time the school holidays have become well and truly under way and we’ve also been on our family holiday. Here are some of the things we’ve been up to!


Whilst on hols I devoured a couple of books on my kindle but I also took a ‘proper book’ with me called ‘Girls, Uninterrupted’ by the author of ‘Taming the Tiger Parent’, Tanith Carey. I had originally planned just to dip into relevant bits of the book when I got a chance but I ended up reading the lot. I can’t recommend it highly enough for parents of girls (and boys in fact!)  It’s bursting with strategies for supporting our daughters in facing the challenges that our modern world presents, whilst enabling them to grow into strong, resilient and healthy woman. If you know me, or have read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that this is right up my street!



We’re a little bit in love with this top from Next. It is perfect for little P because she certainly is the ‘Wild One’ in our family, in the loveliest way possible. It’s from Next – from the ‘boy’s section’ but we’re ignoring that. It was on this shopping trip that we also spotted some girl’s Star Wars clothing which local blogger Man vs. Pink later wrote about. If like us, you’re interested in the gender labelling debate surrounding toys, clothes and books, you might be interested in reading his post here. 



Who says girls can’t make robots?! It must be our week for undoing gender specific labelling! Whilst P was at nursery, E and I made use of a bag of junk I’ve been hoarding for this very purpose for some time and put together a robot. Once constructed we covered it in mod-roc (strips of plaster of paris bandage like those used for healing broken bones but for art and craft purposes, check it out on Amazon) It’s awaiting a lick of paint, that might be our project for this week!




At the end of July it was E’s birthday and one of the fantastic gifts she received was this puppet show curtain. It’s so easy to assemble and the girls have had loads of fun making stories with various characters for us. I also used it to put on a bit of an unplanned pantomime-type-show focussing on stranger danger where the girls have to BOOOO when they spot something that could be situation to be wary of. It’s been educational and loads of fun too! IMG_7506


Hmmmm. School holidays = loads of whinging, whining, bickering. I think Randommusingsbynobodyimportant sums it up perfectly in her post here. However, I’ve also heard A LOT of giggling and laughter too… and I’m certainly not complaining about that. It’s tonic for the soul!

And lastly: 


Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this would you like my facebook page pretty please? : )


Polly xx



#Littleloves: Funny Creatures, Fortitude and Fitbit!

Happy Friday lovely people!

It’s been a few weeks since I joined in with Morgana at Butwhymummywhy and shared my #littleloves for the week. The days are whizzing by and it’s nearly the summer holidays. We’re getting very excited about the end of term!

Anyway, before I drift off into a daydream, here are my littleloves:


StumbleUpon! I love this site / app. It’s such a great way to tailor what you read and look at (websites, articles, photos, videos, images) across the net based on your own interests. No more wading through all the rubbish, you can get straight to what you want to see. I’ve saved this for some rainy summer holiday activities:


You can save interesting pieces into your account and you can also upload things too – here’s one of my uploads!



We’ve recently ploughed through the first series of Fortitude. I’m really torn about whether I enjoyed or endured this one! The story is based around a tight knit community living in the town of Fortitude in the Arctic, which is shaken to the core following a violent and mysterious crime. Whilst the snowy landscape is beautiful, there were times when I felt shivery just watching the bleak, cold environment, and there are many brutal and bloody scenes that had me cowering behind a cushion. It’s not one to watch whilst eating your dinner that’s for sure! Echoes of ‘The X Files’ are what kept me going alongside the strange relationships and dynamics between members of the cast.  Hubby enjoyed it but when the next series is released I think I could take it or leave it. I’d love to know what you thought of it?


Since my weird ‘illness / injury’ – you can read about what happened to me here – I obviously have been taking life very slowly which means that I haven’t done any major exercise in months. So in a bid to keep me moving, albeit gently, I’ve invested in a Fitbit. A few months ago I may have dismissed this as being a bit ‘gimmicky’, but I now realise it’s value for those of us who want to keep moving but can’t go and pound the trails for an hour or jump about energetically in the gym – for the time being at least! It’s great to give you a nudge in the right direction to stay motivated and active, to walk the school run instead of jumping in the car etc.




We’re a wee bit addicted to Silk Clay in the Walker house! It’s like plasticine but feels and smells like Silly Putty. Anyway, it’s air drying, so once you’ve made your lovely creation, leave it for a couple of days to dry and voila! you have a permanent model. I bought some goggly eyes too which worked brilliantly for some of our little creatures! You can buy Silk Clay from good arts and crafts shops and also on Amazon. You can also get Foam Clay which is the bobbly stuff in the pictures.




Paige’s slug. Bless her.


E & I made creatures!


Some more wriggly creatures.


Last Saturday hubby was out for the evening and the biggest ironing pile in the whole world ever was beckoning. So I poured myself a glass of wine, got the ironing board out and stuck some random tunes on to get me through my very wild and crazy evening. Well, one tune led to another and before I knew it I’d worked my way through a fabulous medley of De La Soul, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and En Vogue… taking me right back through several decades of my life. Before I knew it the ironing was done and I was still bopping around singing to myself and pretending that I can rap : )


And finally…. 

We’re excited to be spending the weekend with good friends by the seaside. Can’t wait! Happy weekend everyone! xxx



Thank you for reading!

If you enjoyed this, why not head over to Amazon and check out my children’s book:


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You can also check out my book news and latest artworks at:



Twitter: @pollymwalker


The Power of the Worksheet!

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Picture this: a sunny family walk through the woods, the girls are cheerful and utterly enthralled by the nature around them… occasionally they pause to identify an animal track whilst clutching a collection of interesting sticks, leaves and maybe even a fossil: treasures retained to add to a collection for further investigation. And Mum and Dad? We’re positively beaming with pride at how eager our little loves are to learn about their world.

That’s how it looks in my mind but the reality of a family stroll in the countryside tends to play out a little differently! IMG_2848Until this day, trips to the woods always feel a bit (a lot) forced on my part. Whilst I’m pointing out a heart-shaped unfurling fern in the hope of catching their attention the girls are more concerned with whether they can watch the telly when they get home. Hubby reluctantly scoops little one up as she pleads to be carried, her grubby boots smear his jeans and coat with mud – it is mud isn’t it?! – Whilst big sis brushes against a stinger and stumbles, scraping her hand on a fallen branch. Her cries seem to echo through the trees for miles, and they go on and on and on. Then the rain starts to pour, someone’s hungry, someone else needs a poo, patience is wearing thin, why didn’t anyone think to bring a plaster?!…. Once again our outing is abandoned and we hurry back to the safety of the visitor centre where we all breathe a sigh of relief because the ice cream van is here.


I hate to think I’m forcing our daughter’s pastimes or interests (pushy mum alert!) BUT when we live on the edge of miles of beautiful Chiltern countryside I refuse to ignore the opportunities our natural environment presents: For educational purposes, yes of course, but overall for good old-fashioned fun! Messy adventures, explorations, discoveries, so many possibilities for them to become immersed in. Believe me, there’s no doubt in my mind that whatever the weather, we should be stumbling over tree roots and splashing in muddy puddles rather than breathing the stuffy, sweaty air of a soft play area whilst the girls hurl themselves at a grubby foam filled object. I’m sure they’d agree, wouldn’t they?! Hey, I’ve got Mother Nature fighting my corner here. We just haven’t found our groove yet. Or so I thought, until the emergence of our secret weapon. THE WORKSHEET.

Rewind a few years (well, ok, rewind 15+ years) to my teaching degree and throughout my early days in the classroom. It didn’t take me long to learn that the worksheet was an absolute ‘no no’ – kinesthetic learning was the way forward, and whilst it always required a great deal more planning and preparation, it reaped greater rewards. The worksheet was a lazy resource for educating children and should only be relied upon in emergencies or as a desperate fall back option. So when Elodee returned from school a few weeks back with a ‘leaf identification’ worksheet my inner primary school teacher shook her head in dismay. But I was outwardly delighted! Woohoo! The perfect opportunity for some purposeful time in the great outdoors, and what’s that if it’s not kinesthetic learning? The easy option would have been to head to the garden but the woods beckoned: The sun was shining, the cuckoos calling, the bluebells carpeting the woodland floor in all their splendour… So off we went with makeshift clipboard in hand ready to spot leaves, me holding my breath, ready to patiently tackle the first round of complaining. But it never came!


The power of that little leaf identification worksheet has really transformed our outings and carrying a worksheet or a scavenger hunt is now something of the norm for us when we head out. Now the girls clutch their little cardboard clipboards as we pile out of the car into the trees, they seem to suddenly have such purpose and a newfound fascination in their surroundings. The spring in their step is obvious as they hunt under logs and leaves for the next item on their list and we all feel that the ice cream and the bit of ‘telly time’ has been well and truly earned. That primary teacher inside me is now cowering with shame – how on earth had we overlooked these activities until now I will never know. The dreaded worksheet has helped the girls to really open their eyes to what’s around them, and it has reminded me to open my own eyes to each and every opportunity that might help my job as a parent, especially those that I’d previously rejected or shunned.

So I guess I’d better give the soft play another chance. Maybe I need a worksheet to get me through it….IMG_20150603_0001

You can find some fab worksheets at: http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/ under downloads, but none relate to soft play! And of course there are loads on Pinterest.


Thank you again for reading!

Polly x

If you enjoyed this, why not head over to Amazon and check out my children’s book:


Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 12.31.28

You can also check out my book news and latest artworks at:



Twitter: @pollymwalker