Cheryl Smith: #atinylife Sleep

I slept till after nine this morning, and I don’t mean dozing, or lazing, or duvet diving. I mean sleeping.

This is the kind of sleep that drags you downwards into bliss, the sleep that triumphs over daybreak, obliterating awareness of the light. Plans made before bedtime are voided and cheerful greetings of the new day are postponed, sometimes indefinitely.

And I love it. I have always loved it. Throughout the teenage years, I especially loved it. During the child-rearing years, I longed for it with the yearning of the abandoned, in despair of ever again having and holding. Then the alarm-clock years, when weekend visitation rights were reinstated and hope was restored.

Now it’s back, fully pledged to me at last, bringing the precious gift of guilt-free slumber into the depth of winter mornings. Welcome home, my lifelong love.




Cheryl Smith #atinylife Away From Home

I’ve just got back from a trip to the homeland. It was short and very sweet, full of family celebration and dear friends, and I loved it. But I’m glad I’m back.

There must be a word for this feeling, because I’m sure it’s not just me. Here were the streets I’ve walked, the roads I’ve driven and the homes whose hearths have sustained me. I’ve lounged on these sofas, eaten at these tables, drunk from these glasses. That’s as it’s always been, but there’s something else now, a sense of displacement. Much as I love it, and as often as I return, there is no slot in that world for me to fit into. When, eventually, I move on from here, this will happen again.

I imagine that this is how ghosts feel, when they come to haunt us.

Coming Home

#atinylife break

Due to the events in Manchester on Monday night, I will be taking a break from blogging this week.

It doesn’t feel right to talk about my tinylife when tiny lives have been lost in a city that was my home, once.

I will be back next week.

Wishing you a peaceful day.


#atinylife Flash

Today’s tinylife should really be called ‘tinylife Doofus’ …

Stella Hervey Birrell

I’ve just turned right at that corner that is so sharp that a right turn is literally straight on. There’s a tractor up ahead.

Not particularly noteworthy, I live in the country, and it’s harvest time. I love everything about living in the country including tractors: graceful giants, with almost-always friendly drivers, happy to wave back when they pass my son in the street.

This tractor has a fetching swivel-orange light. Like a siren. But orange. I slow down, but keep coming.img_9745

The tractor flicks its lights to full beam and back. Oh.

I slow down further.

The tractor flashes its lights brightly, strongly. I stop the car at the side of the road.

The tractor passes. It’s not a particularly wide load.

What was that all about?

Driving on, I realise. And switch my own headlights off full beam.

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#atinylife Pee

Some thoughts on pee from writer/good enough parent Stella Hervey Birrell.

Stella Hervey Birrell

Today I have been thinking about…pee.

In a house with two boys under ten, it’s all about the pee. Banning ‘toilet talk’ from the table doesn’t help with the other 23 hours. The word ‘butt’ reigned: until last week, when they graduated to the word ‘booty.’ I’ve gone to zero tolerance mode on the state of the toilet. If I arrive in the bathroom and it is not even up to my lax standards of cleanliness, that’s bad.

And last night I received the least favourite of night time visits – ‘Mum, I’ve peed the bed again.’Pee

Stripping and griping, I wondered if I could squeeze out some positivity, along with the pee, from these experiences. Of course I can. Some people don’t get to have any children, and others don’t get to snuggle them into their own beds every night.

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#atinylife Soup

Today I have been thinking about … soup.

Lentil Soup

Ingredients: Onion, Carrot, Lentils (the right amount normally eludes me), Oil (I use rapeseed) and Stock (I like the Vegan Marigold Bouillon).

Method: Fry the finely chopped onion and carrot gently together, add lentils and coat with the vegetable mixture. Then cover with the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer until the lentils are soft.


Chop, glug, click, swooosh.Soup

Scrape. Stir, leave. Peel, rinse.

Quarter. Quarter, quarter, quarter. Pile.

Stir, check, add. Leave.

Fill, click, Ssssssssh.

Sprinkle, check, sprinkle, how much, sprinkle, risk, sprinkle, too much sprinkle, stop.

Stir, coat sizzle. Waft.

Locate, open, teaspoon, add, close, return.

Sssssh, click. Lift, pour, stir, turn up.


Sit. Write.

Bubble, stick.

Stir, turn down.








Steam. Breathe; Good.

Slurp. Guzzle. Cut, Dip. Lift. Fill, refill. Refill.


#atinylife Cat

Today I have been thinking about…my cat


My cat; black and shiny as lacquered wood

evenings, he’s in the lane yowling

every night, fighting too.

each injury a cool £60 at the vet,

early mornings, he wakes us from slumber,

eager for breakfast at half past five.

eating without competition after leaving the cat home

eked him out by a whole kilogram in a year:

entered our lives beautiful but shy, wouldn’t, couldn’t meet our

eyes, head down but purring, a vast purr, sitting just out of reach, his

eyes flashing, wanting, not wanting a stroke

easier now, he speaks to us in mrrps and ahoohs,

even sits on my knee some precious times,

entertainment bought by just a piece of string dragged slowly;

oh, how I love him, completing my house to a home,

wouldn’t be without him now. Cat



#atinylife Coins by Moira Cormack

‘Lets clean the house for Christmas! Where shall we start?’

The littlest says, ‘the money isn’t very clean.’

She empties her piggy bank over the kitchen table. Out tumbles a mountain of coppers. Soon a small bowl appears. It is filled with tuppenny pieces.

‘Can I have some vinegar?’Coins

‘Hmm, I need rubber gloves.’

‘Do you have an old toothbrush?’

‘I think I need some salt.’

Her sister joins her. The number of bowls grows. The scheme goes from small to grandiose and spreads over the entire table.

I go out. Come back in.

The house smells like a bad chippy. It is overpowering.

‘Can I show you the incident?’ She asks.

Vinegar ran down the table, down the chair legs to puddle on the floor.

‘Well I say, there we are, all clean and ready for Christmas. Thank you.’

#atinylife Laundry

Today I have been thinking about … laundry.


I know it’s a pair of pants short of the full load to be grateful for laundry: but it is (somewhat bizarrely) a recurring theme in my work. Write what you know, they said. So I do.

My band The Domestics’ tag line is ‘Songs of life, lost love, and the laundry.’ I write songs about pairing socks, or attacking an overflowing basket, or wearing something that’s still wet because nothing else is clean (or dry).

But even hated laundry, assumes the following:

clothes on your back,

a house,

a water AND electricity supply,

with space to hang things up.

Laundry is a constant spin, one of the many cyclical jobs that never ends. But unadulterated joy brought by crisp clothes DRIED OUTSIDE; surely one of the simplest pleasures of a tinylife.


#atinylife Tax

Today I have been thinking about … Tax. 


Yep, everyone’s favourite certainty.

Damned tax, paying for my kid’s education, their health (everything from cream for ringworm to the two sets of grommets ops).

Damned tax, getting your bins picked up, even if it is once a fortnight and the recycling boxes get left out on the road and run over.

Damned tax, paying for every single thing that our Local Authorities get right once in a while.

Damned tax, funding for democracy. So much more than the quick hello to the missed friend on the way to the polling station; the buzz in the village.

Damned tax, from those who can afford to pay, generating money for benefits, which go to those who haven’t got enough to go around. That’s how it should be.

Unpublished-unagented-writer-who-parents-full-time-with-tiny-life’s personal tax bill? Well, it’s zero.