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I dislike my mother-in-law

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 04 September 2014
Dear Patricia Marie

I have a job that my mother-in-law doesn't approve of. She never misses an opportunity to say I'm irresponsible, unethical and an embarrassment to her. But that doesn't stop her from coming to our house all the time and enjoying our hospitality. Recently she was here for three weeks because her house was being redecorated as she was getting headaches from the smell of paint. She drove me crazy with her high-handed comments about my work. Now my wife wants her to join us on our annual holiday. She says it will be nice for the children to have granny around. But why should I put up with the company of a woman who clearly doesn't respect me?

Patricia Marie says...

I suspect your mother-in-law feels that she can get away with saying anything she likes because no one ever challenges her. Perhaps she does not see how intrusive and controlling she is being. To her it may just be she is showing caring behaviour and trying to help. She could be feeling vulnerable - scared she may not be wanted or needed, and by displaying authority allows her to feel she has some control.

It would be a good idea for you to meet up with your mother-in-law somewhere on neutral territory so you can level with her. Insist your job enables you to provide a home and fund holidays for your family, and is of no concern to her. Explain you are not happy with her constant criticism and recognise she seems very unhappy around you. This saddens you as you would like her to be at ease in your company. However, if her unacceptable behaviour continues, you will not be wanting her to visit as much. Once she realises her feelings are important to you, hopefully things will change for the better and you will enjoy each others' company.

Your wife needs to understand the importance of you spending quality time alone with your family, otherwise it could create problems within your relationship. At the same time, you need to remember there are advantages to having your mother-in-law join you on your break. It means you and your wife can get to spend time alone together whilst your children are being looked after by their doting granny. Although your mother-in-law may have been taking your generosity for granted, it seems you may have been focusing on the negatives, therefore, not noticing the enormous help and support she must be bringing to your family. And remember, for all the things you find irritating about her - she raised the wonderful woman you fell in love with.

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

Counting down

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Thursday, 29 May 2014
There are two ways to wait for a holiday to come round; waiting with no expectation OR counting down the months/days/minutes/seconds. I can only wait one way. And, for me, the looking forward is all consuming. It includes getting all those awful jobs done first before planning what we will do when we get there, where we will eat and so on.

Packing isn’t a last minute job either for the counting-down-crew. It begins well in advance allowing a little more anticipation to creep in daily before the big zip up.

But there is a danger in all this, as I learnt only too brutally last weekend.

Something can go wrong. A child for instance can fall over in a playground. An arm can be broken in 2 places and need surgery.

And from that point, there is no trip. No need for the packed suitcases, the well-laid plans and intense excitement.

You see, we just spent the last few months counting down to …. watching London rain run down the window pane.

The Smalls log on

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Thursday, 01 May 2014
This week I have received more ‘I love you’ messages than ever before.

In case you are thinking the worst or wondering if He might have swallowed a romance manual whole, I can explain…

You see, after much pester-power (and even more resisting on our part), the Smalls are each proud owners of an email address. The excitement is no less than immense. Homework must be completed before they rush to the computer to check for any new messages and feverishly draft away their kooky news updates. PING! Off fly their amusing messages – either to me or to their quicker-to-respond grandparents.

Despite being quite sweet, I do find this new activity a little sobering. Let’s face it, we’re all slaves to our in-box. Obsessive checking for any new messages and feeling compelled to reply within minutes, life, as these little people know it, is well and truly over.

Of course, they see email correspondence as properly glamorous. They lust after this other world where an iPhone is simply an extension of your hand. Gone are the days when any of us even wonder what the postman might deliver in the way of handwritten correspondence. He’s simply Amazon’s carrier pigeon now.

As I search (online – of course) for this year’s summer holiday destination, I’m quite tempted to find somewhere completely disconnected. The idea of no Wi-Fi, TV and maybe even lacking in constant electricity is really appealing. By then it will be the digital detox my Smalls need.

You can read more musings from Emma at

An island holiday

Posted by Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 21 August 2013
Last week, I went on holiday. I went to the island of Colonsay. It was very heaven.

When I was younger, I fancied myself as a bit of an exotic. When I went away, I went to Malacca and Venice and Cochin. I stayed in one of those glorious old black-and-whites in Singapore and drank bloody bulls staring at the Bemelmans mural in the Carlyle. I was hysterically poncy, and I really ought to apologise to anyone who was there.

Stanley herding the sea.Stanley herding the sea.

Now I am a hoary old horse person, dug into the earth. Pretty much every article of clothing I possess has mud on it. I live in bashed-up old boots, and quite often have strands of hay in my hair. (So this season.) I don’t want to fly off any more to glamorous long-haul destinations. I just want to get on a creaky old ferry and see a good Scottish island.

The ferry itself is so hysterically old-school that at one point the ramp refuses to rise, and Stanley the Dog and I watch in interest as an operative in overalls climbs up a rickety step-ladder and starts hitting a random piece of metal with a hammer. It’s the ferry equivalent of kicking the television. Amazingly, it works, and off we rumble. Oban is, as usual, wreathed in rain and low clouds, but two hours out to sea, as the low hills of Colonsay come into sight, a shaft of wild sunshine dances out from the clouds and illuminates the sage green land. Ah, I think, I am back.

Kiloran BayKiloran Bay

I have not been for four years, and it’s like coming home. Everything is exactly the same. The forecast is, as always, dour and dreich. I have brought gumboots and a hat, to ward off the rain. The days when I used to pack bathing suits and sunscreen are in a distant past.

But, amazingly, the next morning the sky is a singing blue and the sun blazes out of a wild sky and the beaches are as gleaming as the Caribbean. All the beauty dials are set to ten. When the Hebrides are like that, there is nowhere in the world I would rather be. I take Stanley to see his first ever glimpse of the sea. He clearly thinks it is a living thing, and attempts to herd it, chasing the waves with faintly baffled determination. I breathe in the strong salt air, those winds that come all the way from Canada, and can sense every atom in my body reviving. I had forgotten about the sea.

Sea and sky as blue as the West IndiesSea and sky as blue as the West Indies

The pace of life slows and settles. My shoulders come down. There is nothing to do but read a book and look at the view and walk on the sand and have a picnic with old and dear friends. I eat langoustine and drink pints of Guinness. Across the sound, the blue hills of Jura wear their customary white hats of discrete cloud.

There are many lovely things about taking a holiday on a Hebridean island. One of the things I love the best is that I have to drive across Scotland to get there. Once you are above the central belt, crossing Scotland is no straightforward matter. There is no direct route. The most modern of technology and advanced of engineering skills cannot counter mountain ranges and long, black lochs. The tiny ribbons of road wind up and down and round the houses. Except, for long stretches, there are no houses. I actually counted the miles: at one stage I drove for thirteen of them without seeing a human habitation, which feels like a miracle in this crowded land mass. The wilderness is so proper that the radio suddenly disappears, with a fizzing phfftt. When you can no longer hear Radio Four, you know that you are out in the lost places. It was just me and the sheep.

Looking across to JuraLooking across to Jura

Now I am back to work, back to normal daily routine, back to rushing about with never enough time. But every so often, I get a little mental snapshot of the wild glory of Kiloran Bay, and the perfect week rushes back to me, and I think how lucky it is that I don’t have to cross oceans to see exotic beauty. One hundred and eighty miles across Scottish mountains, a few leagues of sea, and I am in another world.

Cheltenham Week

Posted by Tania Kindersley
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on Tuesday, 19 March 2013
I have been away in the south, ostensibly having a holiday. The peril of being self-employed is that holidays don’t really exist. I do not say this in a pathetic, whiny way; it is entirely due to my own obsessive nature. The computer or the notebook are always there; the brain will not switch itself off. I can’t even remember the last time I took a whole weekend away from my desk.

So this time I was determined to have a proper break. I was to go and stay with my most beloved cousin, in her delightful and comfortable house, and then have a week at Cheltenham. It was to be a thing of light and luxe.

Holiday, schmoliday. In the week running up to the festival, I woke at dawn, sitting bolt upright at 6am, immediately thinking whether Bobs Worth or Silviniaco Conti would win the Gold Cup. I kept making mad dashes into Cirencester to order the special Cheltenham Guide from the very understanding people at Waterstone’s, and to buy a spanking new pair of binoculars from the lovely camera shop, which is manned by experts who understand every nuance of the lens.

Then obviously I had to try and re-try all my Cheltenham outfits, and keep a running eye on the weather forecast. As the cold fronts came roaring in, special new thermals were ordered in from John Lewis, to be despatched by overnight express. (That really was a sort of miracle. I was sitting in Gloucestershire, tapping my credit card number into my keyboard, at seven at night, and the vital articles arrived the next day at 7.30am. No wonder John Lewis is practically the only retailer in Blighty that retains its national treasure status through thin and thick.)

By the time the great Tuesday of the Festival dawned, I was a nervous wreck. I was convinced all my ante-post bets were nonsense, that my absurd scarlet hat with the pheasant feather would not work, and that my lovely suede boots would give me blisters. I was necking iron tonic like it was going out of fashion. (Actually, iron tonic has not been in fashion since about 1937, although I can hardly walk a yard without it.)

In the end, it was all worth it. I had driven 550 miles specifically to see the mighty Sprinter Sacre in the flesh, the first time I had the chance to do so. He did not let me down. He was a Stubbs picture of equine grace and brilliance, and, in the first glancing sunshine of the week, he romped home to an imperious nineteen-length victory over the finest horses of his generation. My two Irish darlings, Hurricane Fly and Quevega, stormed up the hill, inspiring such waves of emotion that I burst into tears and flung my arms around a perfect stranger. The brave and bonny little Bobs Worth, a small horse with the heart of a titan, roared home in the Gold Cup, with my money on his bold back. I saw an array of the most beautiful thoroughbred horseflesh in the isles of Britain and Ireland, and shouted until my throat was raw. The hat went literally and metaphorically into the air.

Now all I need is a little holiday to get over my holiday.

Beautiful beach cover-ups

Posted by Nicky Hambleton-Jones
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on Friday, 24 August 2012

As we struggle to cling on to the final few weeks of summer, last minute holiday deals become more and more tempting, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse.  But as Autumn/Winter style storms the shops it can become harder to find the perfect wardrobe for that impulse getaway. One essential item for that late summer holiday is the beach cover-up – a multi-tasking item that can take you from pool to bar in an instant!  Luckily there are still some great options to choose from!

Some of us may not be as happy with our beach body as others, especially at this latter stage of summer when indulging has become too tempting to resist.  This beach dress from Monsoon will still let you flash a little flesh without overdoing it.  Hitting mid-thigh it sweeps over your stomach conveniently concealing and hiding any worries you may have.  The striking tribal pattern is still on-trend and the embellished detailing keeps you looking as stylish as ever without showing all. £16.50 down from £55.00



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