Something incredible happened last weekend...

Family and friends will already know this but, during our weekend break in Riga, Latvia, last weekend, Tom asked me to marry him!!!

I always thought I would sense it coming but I literally had no clue.  For those I haven't managed to speak to about it yet, and those who are just like me and generally nosey, here's how it all came about...

I'd been planning a surprise weekend break for Tom's birthday since December.  I decided on Riga because it looked beautiful and I knew neither of us had ever been before.  I was keeping it as a total surprise, letting him think that we were going somewhere in this country because, at least if he did find out we were going abroad, he would never have guessed Riga.

As the weekend got closer, he started asking more and more questions about where we were going.  As our flight was leaving at 7am, we would have had to have left home at 3.30am to get to the airport in time.  I knew this early time would make him suspect abroad so, to throw him off the scent, I told him we were going in a hot air balloon.

Our flight was from East Midlands so I told him the hot air balloon would take off from Donnington Park (just next to the airport).  Then, when we were heading that way he wouldn't get suspicious.

When the morning came we set off to the airport and were merrily on our way when Tom started asking loads of questions about the hot air balloon ride... 'Will there be other people in it too or just me and you?' - 'Ermmm, I dunno, we'll find out when we get there!'

As we pulled into the airport the penny dropped and he realised he wasn't getting the hot air balloon ride that he had been so excited about (I felt really guilty, but even more so later on!)  I parked the car and gave him an envelope and some photos to let him know where we were going.

He was acting a bit shifty and was lost for words for a lot of the time in the airport and the flight, but I just put that down to tiredness and the excitement of where we were going.

Once we arrived in Riga we took our cases to our hotel and freshened up and set out to explore the beautiful, snowy city.  There was a park just near our hotel which looked just like Central Park (not that I've ever been but from pictures it looked very similar).

As we were walking through the snowy park Tom stopped and I kept walking, at which point he said 'you know, you scuppered my plans for this weekend."  I thought he was going to tell me he had planned to take me away somewhere for Valentine's Day and this had spoilt that, but as I turned around I saw he was down on one knee!

I thought he was just taking the mickey at first so told him to get up (with a couple of expletives and giggles thrown in), then I saw he had a box and a ring!! I can't tell you much about what he said to me at the time because I was just talking over him, but what I did hear was beautiful and I said yes straight away.

This made our weekend away even more wonderful and we strolled around the snowy streets of the beautiful city utilising Riga's many bars to celebrate.

Me trying to throw Tom off the scent had given him the perfect setting to propose to me.  He had planned to do it in the hot air balloon as we went over Leicester (where I went to uni).  When he realised we weren't going in the hot air balloon he was so worried about when to do it and had to do it at the soonest possible opportunity.  Then I felt really guilty!!

He's not the best at keeping secrets, I make light of that often, so I was so shocked when I realised he'd kept this a secret.  He'd bought the ring the day before we went away (another funny story!) and had kept it hidden in the spare bedroom with our cases until we left.

I wondered why he kept going in the spare room the night before we were leaving and, trying hard to keep my secret, thought he was snooping through my things looking for tickets and clues.  But. he was actually going in to make sure I hadn't moved his coat with the ring in.  So the more I went in, to check my secret was safe, the more he went in too.  It was a vicious circle really!

I've always imagined what it would be like when someone asked me to marry them.  There was a time when I never imagined anyone ever wanting to marry me but, since I've been with Tom, I've been so excited for the day he would ask.

We have only officially been together for, what some would say, a short time but because we have known each other for so many years and spend so much time together, it feels like it has been forever.  I've known for a long time that I want to spend the rest of my life with Tom.  Some might say that we've moved fast but to us it feels like it's been forever.  Besides, it's true what they say: when you know, you know.  And we both know.

We're a team - at work and at home - and whatever is thrown at us we overcome it together.  We work well together, we agree on most things but still have our own views (which means we get into some nice debates some times), we complement each other's strengths and weaknesses, and we always look out for each other.

Despite him being one of the clumsiest people I've ever met, I would trust him with my life.  He's kind, honest, loving, charming, funny, spontaneous, cheeky, and the only person who has ever made me feel really, truly special.  He's a proper gentleman, he keeps me on my toes, he looks after me, he always knows how to cheer me up when I'm stressed, and he even sits and watches the soaps with me without complaining.

He has seen me at my absolute worst - being a complete hormonal cow, stressed to the point of turning grey, tired and sleep deprived, and moody because he didn't unload the dishwasher - and he still wants to marry me!

This is all getting a bit soppy now, I do apologise!

We've both had the most amazing weekend and are still coming back dow to earth now.  We would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has congratulated us so far - we've had some really lovely messages from our families and friends and we are both so happy that you are all has happy and excited as we are.

We can't wait to celebrate with our loved ones in the coming months and we look forward to planning our big day together now.  Finally, I can utilise my ever-growing 'Weddings' board on Pinterest!


The Page 3 debate rattles on - but who are these campaigners to tell women what they can and can't do as a job?

Hailed as a feminist triumph by many, the banning of Page 3 in The Sun has provoked a huge reaction in the UK this week.  It was announced earlier this week that the 45-year-old feature in the tabloid would be no more.  But, just as the scores of protestors thought they could claim victory, The Sun today featured Page 3 once again.

The apparent end of Page 3 in The Sun came after years of campaigning by feminist groups who claimed that Britain's most-read 'family' newspaper should not include 'sexist' images of women.

I admit, I sometimes felt a bit uncomfortable when flicking through The Sun because there was always an interesting story I wanted to read which was squashed down the side of Page 3.  Every time, without fail.  

But to ban it altogether seems a bit extreme to me.

Pictures used on Page 3 can be found on the internet in a matter of seconds and you only have to take a trip to a beach when in Majorca, Tenerife, Turkey and many other resorts popular with families to see topless women sunbathing and prancing around the beach.  Sometimes, you don't even need to leave the poolside to see a woman in a tiny thong and nothing else.

Will this be banned next so that children don't see it and other people aren't offended?

Campaigners to get rid of Page 3 were celebrating at the fact that these "belittling pictures of women, which reduce an entire sex to nothing much more than a 'bit of skirt', will no longer be in a news institution" - and I'm sure staff at The Sun had a good little chuckle at this when deciding to feature a topless model again today.

To get rid of Page 3 because it objectifies women in a sexual manner and portrays them in a sexualised way is wrong, in my opinion.

Does this mean that the likes of David Gandy and David Beckham are to be banned from magazines and newspapers and billboards when advertising their new range of fitted underwear?

Full page adverts are regularly featured in newspapers and magazines showing men in nothing but a pair of snug y-fronts; they're plastered on billboards and in shop windows; and the advert of David Beckham running around Beverly Hills in his tight pants, with shots zoomed in on his pert bottom, are ok to be shown on television.  So why are these sexualised images of men okay?

If Kayleigh with her 34FF boobs wants to make a career out of showing off her assets to the country - then who are these campaigners to stop her?  

Women go into this career with their eyes open.  Women choose this as a career and get boob jobs and enhancements in order to follow their dreams of being on Page 3.

If women thought they were being sexualised and objectified, they wouldn't do it.  Nobody is asking these feminist campaigners to whack their boobs out and pose for Page 3.

As Chloe Goodman, the former Page 3 model and Celebrity Big Brother contestant, put it:  "Why should feminist women tell other women how to live their lives?  Women fought together to get the vote and so on and so forth, so why should women now be fighting each other, and tell each other what job roles to now take within the industry?"

If people were really so offended and put off by the topless models, people wouldn't buy the paper.  But The Sun is the best-selling newspaper in the country and that wouldn't be the case if people were truly against their famous feature.

You don't buy The Sun for hard-hitting news, let's be honest.  You buy it for it's light-hearted take on things, the celebrity gossip and the easy-to-read stories that you can understand at first read.

Page 3 is a platform for many women to the rest of their career and if it's okay for women to drool and gawp at David Gandy and David Beckham in their tight pants then men should be allowed to do the same at Page 3 models.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, though, and those campaigning to be rid of Page 3 obviously have their own good reasons for it.  But in this day in age when music stars such as Miley Cyrus, who is admired and supported by millions of youngsters around the world, are parading themselves on stage in minimal clothing and publishing explicit images of themselves - I don't see what harm Page 3 is doing.


Oh no, things have got too comfortable! 12 signs your relationship has arrived in Comfortable City.

I was getting ready to go out for some tea last night and, after much deliberating about what to wear, decided on my skinny jeans and a nice knitted jumper.  Every girl will know that the first wear of the skinny jeans when they've come out of the wash is not the most comfortable, and the 'skinny jeans dance' is needed to wriggle them on, but this was something else.

I wriggled, I jumped, I pulled and I swore and, after they were on and fastened, I realised I probably wouldn't be able to sit down without my muffin top cascading over the top.

Dammit.  Here it is, I've arrived. The comfortable stage.

During my many years living in Singletown I struggled to comprehend how people got too 'comfortable' - I couldn't understand how you could put on a bit of weight and let yourself go that little bit when suddenly someone was going to be seeing you naked all the time.  To me, surely that's the time you should be eating healthier and spending more time in the gym?

Well, apparently not.  Granted we have just had Christmas so a bit of post-Turkey podge is expected,  but it wasn't just the tight nature of my, now, super skinny jeans that made me realise we've arrived in comfortable city...

1. All inhibitions have gone, it would seem. 
Conversations of topic over breakfast, and any other meal for that, are not limited.  Tom is quite happy to talk about poo as I tuck into my Weetabix and doesn't shy away from a graphic story while we eat tea.  But then again, neither do I.  Last weekend I got some pretty nasty blisters after our walk and took great pleasure in describing them and whacking them out as we tucked into our casserole.  Isn't he lucky to have me?!

2. Locks on the bathroom doors are just irrelevant until we have other people round. 
In fact, most of the time the doors might as well not even bother being there.

3. Shaving is not such a pressing need.
I don't care, he doesn't care.  I only have to shave now if I want to and, let's be honest, the last thing you want to be doing in the cold, winter months is spending an age shaving off the fluff that keeps your legs warm.

4. Period talk is not a shock.
It was met with some objections at first but, when he realised I wasn't going to stop bringing it up, he gave in.  He does know when is appropriate to broach the subject, though.  Never has he (and will he, if he knows what's good for him) said: "Jesus, are you on your period or something?!" - that would open a whole can of worms.  No, it's more a case of do not speak about it unless spoken to. 

5. You pop each other's spots and pluck stray hairs.
I was so not down for this one when Tom decided to surprise me by popping a spot on my back one morning.  A few expletives were heard echoing around our house and I developed a few new names for him.  But, after I realised I liked plucking his hairs, I learnt that I couldn't do that without letting him have a go on my spots.  Wow, we are actually disgusting.

6. Farting becomes as normal as breathing.
There's no need to even do the whole 'oh my god, did you just fart?!' - it's just accepted, dealt with and moved on from straight away.  The 'girls don't fart' myth is a distant memory.

7. You can pretty much just order for each other in a restaurant.
Predictability isn't always a bad thing.

8. You start to dress the same.
And not intentionally, which is even scarier.  The other day me and Tom both went to work in matching outfits - and we didn't even realise until our friend pointed it out!  I was in a nice plum, midi skirt while Tom was sporting an equally lovely plum jumper. 

9. Underwear has lost all erotic significance.
It's hardly ever paid attention to and acknowledging it is just a means to an end.  Matching underwear is only for really, really special occasions and, even then, is probably not even noticed.

10. You start using your pet names for each other in the company of others.
It's not just a nickname any more, it's etched on your brain and deemed appropriate to call him in front of other people.

11. You are quite happy just sitting there, not talking, each scrolling through your Facebook and Instagram feeds.
There's no such thing as an awkward silence any more.  In fact, sometimes you actually enjoy the times you can sit there in complete silence together.

12. Weight gain is only an issue to you.
The whole reason that made me look at how comfortable we are - but it's only an issue to me.  Let's face it, if my jeans hadn't been a bit snug yesterday I wouldn't have even noticed anything different.  And if I haven't noticed, I highly doubt Tom would have.

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41 things 90's kids will remember

1. The letter on the inside of the smarties tube was the initial of the person you were going to marry.

2. Everyone wanted 'Tubby Toast' for breakfast

3. Games in the school playground usually involved 'pogs' and 'tazos'

4. The tape coming out of your video was always a distressing time

5. Everyone had at least one of these in their pencil case

6. As well as some smelly gel pens

7. We were all expert fortune tellers thanks to these

8. Everyone was obsessed with these

9. You sent your tamagotchi to work with your parents because you couldn't have it at school and you couldn't let it die

10. Penny sweets were actually a penny

11. The excitement of renting a video from here

12. Your game didn't work? Just blow in it!

13. You couldn't drink orangeade without doing this...

14. These guys were the reason to get up early on a Saturday morning

15. You still have a box somewhere full of these

16. You always wished you could make a 'big Art Attack'

17. You remember Furby from the first time round

18. This was the must-have for every bathroom

19. There were new episodes of Friends that you hadn't seen before

20. You had to clear your inbox to receive more texts

21. You had a pair of these the first time round

22. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air song

23. You remember Opal Fruits being around

24. You always wanted to take these for your dinner, even though they were horrible

25. These were the best thing your mum could come home from the supermarket with

26. Your first real emotional involvement in a film

27. These were the boys

28. These never had babies

29. It was effort to get a good ringtone

30. Having to delete characters and spaces in your messages so it didn't cost you an extra 10p

31. The first thing you did when you bought a new CD was check you had the lyric book so you could learn all the words

32. This, a microphone and a blank tape meant hours of fun making your own radio shows

33. Everyone wanted a Bernard's Watch

34. The 'grown-up' film that even you could watch

35. Everyone wanted to go on this show and take on the travelator 

36. Robbie leaving Take That

37. The decade of the boybands

38. Blobby, Blobby, Blobby!

39. Everyone wanted to go on this

40. The cool glittery skipping ball which looked strangely like a ball and chain

41. Kinder Eggs weren't ridiculously over-priced and actually contained a good toy



32 things I wish I could tell my 14-year-old self which will be relatable to all noughties teenage girls.

1. You might feel like the most morbidly obese female in your school and see all of your friends as being skinnier than you, but you will look back in 10 years and wish you'd made the most of not needing to hammer the gym three times a week just so you don't feel guilty about eating a family size bag of Sensations.

2. Lambrini is never a good idea.  Neither is standing outside the off license in town with your friends trying to get someone to go in and buy some for you with all your pocket money that you've saved together. 

3. Hiding said Lambrini in someone's front garden when the police come is also not the wisest of moves.

4. Don't post anything too cringey on MySpace or Bebo because, one day, you will forget your login details and these pages (pictures, comments etc) will haunt you forever - 'AwW bAbEz U cAn Av Ma LuV fOr 2Daii CoZ u Iz Da BeSt M8 I CuD eVa AsK 4. lUv YoU 4eVa N eVa BbY gAl'

5. Don't write like that either.  It takes ages, for a start, and does not look cool.  (What was I thinking?!)

6. Signing in and out on MSN when you notice the boy you fancy is online is not going to make him want to talk to you any more, it's probably just going to annoy him into blocking you.

7. Don't then log in to your secondary MSN account, which is always kept as 'appear offline', to check if said boy has blocked you.  Behaviour like this at 14 will set you on a slippery slope.

8. 'IDSTFM' is not true - it can be destroyed and will not be true forevermore, don't worry.

9. Don't worry about what people think about you - so what if a load of boys from your year at school saw you dressed as a fish while doing pantomime?  And so what if they filmed it and sent it around school?  Facebook hasn't been invented yet so it'll all be forgotten in a few days and nobody will ever see it again.

10. Don't worry about being clever.  In 10 years time, those kids you were so desperate to be friends with will be a distant memory.

11. School really isn't that bad.  Only being there from 9am until 3.20pm with a couple of breaks in between will seem like heaven when you enter the world of fulltime work.

12. Stop experimenting with your mum's make-up and buy your own.  That orange line on your chin where you haven't quite blended your foundation into your neck is not pretty.

13. Similarly, stop with the eye liner.  There's no need for the heavy, black eyes.

14. Most of the boys you fancy now, who don't like you back, will end up fat, ugly and in dead-end jobs.  You won't.

15. 'Accidentally' getting changed in front of your webcam is not cool.

16. You're right, you'll never need to use algebra, Pythagoras, or all that other rubbish that is deemed 'really important' at school.

17. Those career advisers are wrong, your GCSE options really won't impact that much on your career path.  If you want to do the subject which means you get to take the pretend baby home for the night, you do it!

18. You haven't yet experienced proper heartbreak, sorry!  Just because your 'boyfriend of 8 months' kissed someone you thought was your friend is not the end of the world.  Give it a week and you'll fancy someone else and he'll have had three more girlfriends by then.  Romance moves fast at 14.

19. You're not 'frigid' - 90% of those stupid boys saying that have probably never even touched a girl's boob never mind anything else.

20. Don't, I repeat don't, think it's cool to be a chav.  Walking round York in trackies tucked into your football socks, with a Fred Perry jumper on and huge silver hoop earrings will haunt you for the rest of your days.  And, if you put photos on MySpace and Bebo they, too, will haunt you. (What the hell was I thinking!?)

21. You haven't met the person you're going to marry and have babies with yet.  So it doesn't matter if that idiot boy you fancy doesn't fancy you back.

22. You might feel like the oldest, most mature, sensible person in the world - but you're only 14.  Don't be in a rush to grow up, enjoy being a teenager and being able to get away with doing teenage things.

23. You and your friends will fall out and make up, and fall out and make up.  Drama is everywhere when you're a teenager - just be thankful there's no Facebook to exaggerate the issues further.

24. Don't dye your hair brown.  Just don't do it.  You'll hate it and you'll have brown hair on your prom photos and you'll hate them, too.

25. Throw away that brown belt made up of big circles with studs in the middle.  One day, Deidre on Coronation Street will be wearing one and it's best to get rid of all hard evidence that you also owned one.

26. Don't stress about shaving your legs for P.E.  In years to come, you'll go for weeks on end without shaving your legs and it won't phase you.

27. Stop straightening your hair every single day.  Split ends are not pretty, neither is really thin, damaged hair.

28. DJ Cammy, DJ Rankin and all their little friends will vanish into thin air.  You'll still always remember the rap to 'MC Smally', but it's best not to ever publicly demonstrate that.  Or your previous love for the tinny, chavvy music.  Delete them from your iTunes and move swiftly on as if it never happened.

29. Well done for not giving in to the pressure to smoke.  Spending your money on chocolate and clothes was a much better choice.

30. Don't be scared to be yourself.  Don't try and dumb yourself down just to fit in - be proud of your high marks on tests and essays.  Don't be scared to put your hand up in class and stop caring what other people think about you. 

31. Stop worrying about boys not fancying you.  You'll go a long time without boys showing any real interest but that's ok, you only need to find one good one (and you do).

32. But most importantly, enjoy being a teenager!  You have no bills (except your pay as you go mobile), you have no real responsibilities, and nothing except who your top 8 friends will be on MySpace to worry about.  Enjoy!

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