I Am Not A Number

I am a 10, unless I am a 12 or a 14, sometimes all three at once and more often than not, none of these all at the same time while also still not being an M or an ML but definitely never a SM. All of these are a labels we pin to ourselves, we tag ourselves with to boost our body confidence. Or more realistically, give us a boot with which to kick ourselves.

I am not a number.

I am a woman whose body has given birth twice. My hips are not where I left them back in 2010 before my first pregnancy, my shape has changed although not in the way I would expect with my fluctuating weight. My body shape changes on an almost daily basis, moves with the changes of the moon and whether or not I’ve had beer, pasta or lentils that day. The size I get up to on a morning can sometimes dramatically differ from that which I face when I go to bed.

So when I buy clothes there needs to be a bit of breathing room, not just literally but figuratively as well. Clothes need to be worn in to feel at home on my body. The numbers are essentially meaningless except they can frame your whole self-perception. They are they to tell you which item should fit you but there is so little between the sizes in terms of fabric and so much between them in our heads. Not only that but the dress sizes are not universal. A size 12 in one shop could be a 10 or 14 in another.

I’ve been known to shop at certain places because they are generous in their sizing and I can twirl around with glee that I am in a dress size smaller than the one I think I am in my head. How screwed up is that? My body shape is my body shape regardless of what the number says on the tag. The more we try remember this the happier we will be with how our bodies look.

Last week I found the most perfect raincoat that I’ve spent years on the lookout for. The shop had a size 10 and a 14 in stock. I felt like I DESERVED to fit into the 10 since I’ve been going to the gym and eating well. I didn’t. My arms were too big for the arm holes and I knew that there was no way I could get a cardie underneath. The shop assistant suggested I try the 14, I said no. I said no to my perfect coat.

I went off and found another branch which also only had a 10 and 14. I tried on the 14 and it not only fit but fitted perfectly. My perfect coated fitted me perfectly in its inperfect-for-me size. I realised that I was so hung up on the number that I was prepared to let go of a beautiful and much needed coat because of it.

Then I realised I do this ALL. THE. TIME.

Sod the sizing; something that fits me in a size can look completely different on a similar sized friend because clothes are not made to fit our individual bodies they are made to fit an unseen idealised mannequin shaped body. Our bodies are all wonderfully shaped and do amazing things, we need to remember that so we don’t get hung up on someone else’s label for our bodies.

There is a way around this which is to make our own clothes. Only when I started to try sew my own clothes did I realise how much I could adapt something to really fit me and how good it felt to have clothes that truly fit. This is not always an option due to time, faff, cost of fabric. Recently I have taken to getting some great charity shop finds and adapting them to my body, which is surprisingly satifactory. But really, the best way to fight the numbers is to stop paying attention to them. If you care what the label says inside, cut it out. As long as it fit and you feel good, that is all that matters.

How This Four Letter Word Will Ruin Your Body-Confidence And Ways To Avoid It

There is a four letter word which will do more to ruin your body-confidence than anything else and I would like to see it and all versions of this word removed from how you talk about yourself and your life. That word is FAIL.

Have you ever found yourself saying or thinking the following phrases:

  • I’ve failed to complete this
  • I’ve failed the challenge
  • I feel like such a failure
  • I have failed to fit into that dress
  • I’ve failed to lose weight/change dress size/fit into that item of clothing I used to wear
  • I’ve failed at life

You probably have one or more of these phrases going through your head each day and onc you have kids that sense of failure just packs the pressure on because you don’t want to fail your kids.

‘Fail’ is a destructive and counter-productive word that should be consigned to the same black box as ‘beach body ready’ and all those other negative messages in the world that make you feel like you aren’t acheiving.

Before I tell you how you can change your thinking to rid your life from FAIL-itis I want to tell you how my year of exercise started. I received an email from a vegan running blog challenging me to a whole year of running challenges. I thought, ‘why the heck not?’ and took it up. The first month’s challenge was to run at least a mile very day for the whole month. In Januray. In the Peak District.

For 12 days straight I ran through rain, snow, winds. I got soaked by inconsiderate people driving through puddles right next to me. I ran early in the morning before the kids woke up and at the end of a long day after I’d put them into bed. And then I got a day that it was impossible for me to fit in a run. Not just that I couldn’t find the time but it was completely and utterly impossible. I’d had 4 hours broken sleep, needed to get up and get the first train to London, spent a day in a meeting and then get a train back home, by which point it was so late I just collapsed into bed. I had failed.

So I missed the next day and the next. I thought I would just pick up the challenge in February but I didn’t. Nothing happened in March or April. I did the odd exercise video here and there, some yoga and my wonderful outdoor fitness class on a Monday. In June that ended for good. By the end of July I could no longer fit into some of my clothes with ease. Last month I joined a gym; this is most unlike me.

But does this story sound familiar? Do you start a challenge, get part way through and from external circumstances or as I like to refer to it as ‘life’, you stop for a day and that’s it the mojo has gone?

If so, here are my tips for combatting that:

1.Accept life happens

Missing one day of a challenge or even a week doesn’t mean you have ‘failed’ it just means you have a whole, complex life that needs attention. Be it children, work or family these things can sometimes gulp up your time in ways you weren’t expecting. Accept it, acknowledge it and get back on it. But most importantly the challenge is only with yourself so you are fully within your rights to…

2. Shift the goalposts

You know those cheesy, inspirational quotes that keep telling you you are only in competition with yourself? Well, theey are right. So who is to say that a 30 Day Shred needs to be 30 days straight? Is there a rule book somewhere that if you don’t do it without break days then you’ve not done it? Are we seriously saying we only accomplish things if we play by some rules set up by others or worse our subconscious?  Because that is total rubbish. Had I shifted my goal posts at the start of this year who knows where my running life may have been right now, I may have even enjoyed running. I doubt it but you never know. Sod the rules, change the goal posts, succeed.

3. Focus on the achievements

How often when doing anything to do with your health or wellbeing do you focus on your achievements rather than your end goal? Here’s the thing about health and wellbeing goals, as soon as you get near to them you push them further away. There’s always more you can do, better improvements you want to make. This is human but it also means we don’t always appreciate where we are right now and what we have done. Like that photo of you from 10 years ago that you take out and think ‘I looked so young, and thin. If only I’d appreciated that then’. Well big news: you are young and thin – especially to the 10 year older you who will be looking back at photos from now thinking the exact same thing. Appreciate yourself as you are now and celebrate the things you have achieved. Whether it is all-weather running for 12 days straight or lifting the next level kettlebell or simply going to a group.  All of it needs celebration and every time you feel like you’ve ‘failed’ then think of at least five things for every one negative.

4. Find your motivation

Failure saps motivation and feeds further apathy for doing something positive. When you find yourself missing stuff and not really wanting to get back into it, have a motivation plan. The hardest day is not the first day but the 10th or 20th or whatever your breaking point it to turn it into a routine that is part of your life. It turns out that my motivation is not really competition (with myself or others) so could take or leave a challenge. They tend to interfere in what I want to do in my spare time anyway. My motivation is sometimes fitting into some clothes I can no longer wear, or putting quid in a jar every time I do some exercise knowing that in a few months I’ll be able to afford something expensive that fits. This works really well for short classes and HIIT training. Or currently the big money investment of a gym membership for 6 months is keeping me ‘getting my money’s worth’.  My motivation is never fixed, it changes from time to time so I need to change with it.

5. Take the internet with a pinch of cynicism

How many times have you looked at your friends’ wonderful social lives, clean homes and sparkling children online only to find out when you meet them in person those images and posts they put out there are a small snap shot in time and they actually need your help and support? Or they are bored and it was their first night out in months? We don’t put out the things that are going wrong in our lives because that’s the part we hold back for those close to us. The same applies to all the ‘after’ pictures you see. We hold ourselves up to unobtainable lives projected out on the internet of strangers who we think are happier, healthier and more fun that we are. We aspire to a lifestyle that is impossible to acheive. We all do it and we all, deep down, know that what we see on the internet is a shell to live much like our own behind the filtered images.

Hold that mirror up to those you see in real life alone and more importantly only measure yourself and your successes against you alone. This isn’t easy, it is human to compare and feel there is something better out there. It is what makes us strive to improve ourselves but it also makes us miserable.

There’s no easy way to do this because we all love social media and our online projections of ourselves. You should no more remove yourself from that world than you should start thinking this is how people live. Just the next time you see some posts of someone you know having a really great time, check in with them. It might not be as it seems.

Have you ever wanted to start your dream business?

leap - resize

Dream businesses are meant to be things of dreams, right? Things for the people who are financially able, have funding or investment. Not for the ordinary folks with kids and bills to pay. I seriously wish I’d had the impetus to do what I did in a few months of this year a long time ago because I cannot imagine what I could have done with the time and lack of responsibility freely available to me then.

I have thought about this a lot since having my kids because work as I knew it just wasn’t working for me. At the same time I couldn’t work out how in the precious little time between the kids going to bed and my falling asleep on the sofa I would muster the energy and motivation to do something for myself that needed, you know, brain power.

I couldn’t quit my day job to chase a dream because then how would I pay rent, cover child care and eat? I had an idea, a great idea that was eating up at me and itching me to be done but where would I even start?

Then I did this one great exercise (plus a bit of squirreling away of the wine money) and a few months later I launched my own business that I love, that motivates me and gives me energy to do because growing this thing is one of the best things I have done in a long time.

Here is step-by-step what I did and I hope you find it useful too:

1.Write down the big things you want to achieve

This should be a short list of the great big things that you want to do, like now. Mine was a list of three but that was probably two things too long. Those things were launch my knitting business, expand the types of events I worked on to include subjects I love and write.

2. Take note of the first thing you need to do to make progress

Don’t make a full on list of everything you need to do to achieve your dreams, that will overwhelm you and totally sap at the motivation. Just put on the page the very first thing you need to do to take a step forward in your plan. For me that was make a budget for the knitting business so I knew how much I had to save, how long it would take me to save it and what date I could have that cash ready by. For the other two things I wrote down ‘pick a date for a craft event for my husband’s marathon fundraising’ and ‘spend the first 15 minutes of each day free-writing’.

Each of those three things were really simple and probably don’t take up too much time. I will be honest, when it came to the next step I was surprised at how much of the above I didn’t get chance to do.

3. Check in on yourself

On the last day of each month I go back and I check in on how I have progressed on the last step. Did I do that one thing in the space of the month? Most often it was no because I made my list two items too long and instead of wanting to complete one thing that month, I was trying to complete three. Make the list short. This is important else you will have completed something but not everything and that doesn’t half sap at your motivation levels. Then, and this is very important, if I hadn’t done my list from the previous month, I just accepted that and tried again the following month.

4. When you complete something, add one more thing

This bit is obvious but when I finished one step, I added another and would aim to get that one done in the same month if I could. Before I knew it those snatched minutes here and there were really adding up. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the mammoth ideas, I didn’t set myself unrealistic deadlines and most importantly…

5. Roll with it

When I look back now at that first page I wrote in January, it looks nothing like I expected it to right now, today. It is better and different. It is bigger than I could have hoped. It also moved so much faster than I anticipated.

Here’s what I’ve done in the past 8 months (which is more than I’d done in the years previous):

New Logo

Put on a crafternoon at my local community rooms and raised almost £200 for MIND.

Created my own website from scratch and launched my craft business http://www.sonicknits.com

Grown my list and following from zero to the hundreds

Interviewed lots of women who run their own craft business and learned from them.

Written a synopsis and outline for a book plus three chapters.

Filled three notebooks with writing.

Shipped out three months of craft subscription boxes and have a queue of people lined up to work with me.

Given myself the confidence to grow with my goals and acheive what once seemed impossible.

Set a fantastic example to my kids

Started to learn to drive.

I’ve learned a lot on the way these past few months and I want to share some of that too in future.


How To Have A Baby And Not Lose Your Shit – A Sort of Review

HaveABabyMy good friend and excellent blogger over at Eeh Bah Mum has only gone and written a blooming fantastic book. Yes this is not really a review because  a. know the writer and b. I get a mention on page 2 (plus elsewhere but why spoil the plot for you?). Although I am going to review it because today I finished the book on the train whilst simultaneously laughing and crying.

Kirsty has always been one of the mums I’ve held in high esteem for just making it all look so easy, natural and being a normal human being at the same time. When I would return her daughter from a particularly disastrous walk, covered head to toe in mud, she’d be there with a coffee on offer and a funny story from earlier in the week to counter it. I figured she’d just got the whole ‘being a mum thing’ instantly and calmly got on with it. Instead, the book tells a different side, a touching and honest side that every single mum and mum-to-be should read. If only to know that no one just ‘gets it’ however much it looks like they do from the outside.

I first met Kirsty at the wedding of mutual friends around 4 years ago. We found ourselves getting drunk over nice food while our respective children caused some manner of chaos around the room. Being from Yorkshire, it is vital that you announce such a fact when meeting new people at places like weddings and we therefore figured out that not only were we from the same place in Yorkshire, had kids but we also lived on the next street to each other in North London. A friendship was formed.

I don’t particularly need much in a friendship; the ability to see the funny side of things and a willingness to go to the pub will do. As one of the funniest women I know and her London leaving drinks being up there in the top nights out list, Kirsty has made a pretty solid friend over the years. She has given me sterling advice about second kids, relocating and doing the 30 Day Shred with a newborn. Had I listened to her at the time, I could have saved myself a lot of crying about why my 4 month old won’t sleep long enough to let me work out; why for the past year I have felt like I am losing the plot because the first 6 months of a second child is a false sense of security; and I wouldn’t have spent the past year desperately trying to win the lottery so I could return to North London.

But I didn’t. Instead I read the same wonderful, funny outlook on motherhood in her book while kicking myself for being an idiot. I knew she talked sense when she was telling me it, I was just too wrapped up in baby world and sleep deprivation to remember.

How To Have A Baby isn’t just a funny, honest account of parenting though, it is more than that. It lays bare how having kids challenges you and how you view yourself as a person. Kirsty manages to voice the thoughts that went through my head about kids before I had them, about careers once they do arrive and also nails the first post-child hangover with alarming accuracy.

This is not your usual, ‘how to raise your kids’ book. The advice is simple: chill out and make friends. Something you don’t find in the wall of other baby books telling you about routines, naps, development, and all the other stuff that won’t necessarily apply to your baby because someone forgot to tell your baby to read the book. So in the truest sense, this is a book about how to be a parent and not how to look after a baby or raise a child.

I do wish I had read this book when I was pregnant with my first child. It probably wouldn’t have saved me from new mum craziness but it would have helped me realise I wasn’t on my own. Heck, I needed this book a year ago when I was struggling with two kids in a new place and then I wouldn’t have felt the need to drunkenly apologise to half the mums at the playgroup night out for being an emotional wreck when I first met them. But it is here now, in our lives and will be the gift I give to all new mums.

You can buy the book here.

Guest Post: Jo Giroux on Weight Loss Exercise

Jo Giroux is a personal trainer, weight loss consultant and nutritionalist. She also runs the fabulous Park Fit class that I attend every Monday in the Derbyshire Dales. Jo is a wonderful trainer, incredibly motivating in the face of mass cynicism and has really helped bust my body back into a recognisable shape. Jo has kindly posted about the best ways to shed fat while exercising.

Get Fit

I’m often asked what’s best for fat loss or weight loss, and it’s a been the hot subject for years. As somebody that runs, I’m a big running supporter. But for fat loss? No. It’s resistance and HIIT training that’s key.

I hear the same thing time and time again – “I want to lose weight but I hate running”, ” want to shift a stone so I’ve started going running”. If this sounds like you and your goals then read on.

It’s very easy to assume that running will single handedly shift the pounds because you see how many calories you’ve just lost on your little running app or watch and think that’s it. The thing with running though is once you stop, so does the calorie burning. There is very little Exercise Post Oxygen Composition (EPOC) with running (or any other steady state cardio) – so you only burn calories whilst you run. There is no doubt that you’ll burn calories, which is fab, but it will take longer.

You see that woman (lets use a woman for this scenario) who runs and runs and runs, has slim hips, lean muscles etc etc. Trust me, she’s been running for years, probably since school. And she’s like that because of her GENETICS. Not because she runs for hours on end. Don’t compare yourself to that woman – you won’t get her figure because we’re all different. It’s about being the best YOU can be.

So in Park-Fit we do a lot of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and there’s a reason for that. When it comes to efficient calorie burning HIIT is leaps and bounds ahead of standard cardio. Why? EPOC! That thing I mentioned before. When you do HIIT your body and metabolism function at a higher rate of burned calories for hours and hours afterwards. What does that mean? It means that whilst your sitting with your coffee post Park-Fit you’re still burning calories. HIIT forces your heart to adjust to the changing conditions: sprints, hill runs, fast feet etc. Your heart learns to operate outside its norm, and your body learns to adapt to these changes. All of this changing and sprinting kicks your metabolism into high gear for hours after you’ve finished exercising.

Studies have shown that participants who did integral training as opposed to steady continuous exercise lost THREE TIMES the body fat. I’d take that option every time. The bad thing about HIIT is that it’s exhausting. Your body wants to give up after 20 minutes and it takes time to recover.

So where does resistance/weight training come into it? Simply put, the bigger the muscle, the more calories it needs to work and keep being efficient. Big doesn’t mean you’ll turn into Arnie – as women we don’t have the physical capacity to get like that. But we can become lean.

Which exercises in particular are best suited for weight loss? Exercises that recruit the largest number of muscles – squats, lunges, burpees, kettlebell swings, push-ups etc. Hence the reason I like to do these most sessions. Get them in your workout, mix it in with some HIIT and you’ll build muscle and burn calories at an accelerated rate for hours after you’ve finished.

This is all good and well, but if you don’t eat properly all the above means nothing. Eat right, eat real foods. Don’t miss meals – you may see weight loss but not necessarily FAT LOSS. If you skip or miss meals your body will hold onto its fat stores, resulting in a weaker metabolism. If you want advice about your food – just ask. I’m happy to help whether you come to a Park-Fit class or not.

So, my ultimate advice? Establish your goals, but be realistic about it. Do a variation of exercise if you can, and pick something you enjoy. If you want faster results in less time – do HIIT and resistance. Run if you like. I run because I love the feeling of running, but it’s not for weight loss reasons. That’s why I do burpees😉

For more details about Jo Giroux, please visit her website: http://www.jogirouxfitness.com/

The 30 Day Shred and Lying.

Push ups = nemesis


Today I have completed the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels. If there is a woman in her 30s who hasn’t yet heard of this workout I would be amazed. It’s a Mumsnet favourite for a reason: 20 minute work out from start to finish. I’ll be honest, I missed one day due to complete exhaustion and illness but otherwise I did it. It wasn’t easy, I lacked time, motivation, fitness levels and enthusiasm but I did it. If you’ve followed any of my Insta-spam you’ll see I put my all into it.

So here’s the thing, why do a 30 Day Shred? When the 30 days are up, then what?

This is what I’ve learned over the past month:

  1. Women tell lies.

I’m guilty of this myself. I was in the pub with friends right at the start of the month. As we were in the pub it is safe to assume these were childless friends and the subject of post-partum bodies came up. They talked about how their mothers still had great bodies after birth and didn’t know how they managed it. Then asked me how I managed it.

For a second, I was about to tell that great lie that sometimes we tell “it just happens”. Like there is something great about you if you find things effortless. No there isn’t. I shocked myself that I almost said this because a. it’s not been effortless and b. I’ve grown two humans inside of me, my body will never be the same again. I have no idea why for that split second I wanted people to think it was easy to lose the baby weight, like there is a shame in working out but it was there. Instead, I broke the news to the childless that my body has changed shape and I work damn hard to get somewhere near to my 20-odd year old body.

I try to be okay about stretch marks but I know that it is okay to be upset by them too. For all the wonderful things that happened to make them, it still doesn’t mean I like them any more. I don’t love my children any less if I get upset that I look like melted Barbie.

2. It will take more than 30 days to look like Anita, Natalie or Jillian.

Bless Jillian for her boundless motivation on the DVD. I love it, I push through the pain but somewhere in the Level 3 circuits she says that if you’ve been working hard and following the diet plan this is where you’ll start to see the 6 pack. And I believed it. I eat well, really well and I put so much effort into the work outs but I have not got a 6 pack or anywhere near. I still have a post-pregnant pouch.

And when I took mid-shred challenge measurements and found I’d lost 2 inches from my hips in 15 days, did I celebrate? No, I cried because nothing, absolutely nothing had gone from the part of my body I hate the most: my stomach. What on earth is wrong with me? I truly believed that it didn’t matter how fat I was on day 1, by day 21 I would have six pack. No, the 30 Day Shred will not give you a six pack in 30 days but it will give you the kick start you need to make that (or something else) your goal. It will take more than a month to get the body image you want, but if you get a kick start then the end goal doesn’t seem so far away.

3. Self-confidence is everything.

If you’d met me you wouldn’t think that confidence and self-esteem were something I struggled much with but beneath the outer presentation to the world is a very shy person who battles against all natural instincts to go up and talk to people. It might be why I feel so chilled out in London; no one wants to talk to me. When blogging this shred on Instagram, I really struggled with the sweaty selfie. There is something quite self-indulgent about it and also, I don’t want anyone to see me in my workout. I would rather hide in a darkened room alone to do it.

I was horrified last week when three people saw me jogging into town from the school run. Horrified. I struggle to do my runs after the school run because I feel so exposed in the playground in my running clothes. I hate it. It took me ages to build up the the selfie on instagram. So, not everything that is put out in the world is a real, honest document of life. There are the bits that I didn’t show. I showed my arms because I was so impressed with them taking shape. If I could have photographed my legs, I would have done. I got my husband to take a photo of my press ups because I could do them. Did I get any of the things I struggled with whilst struggling? Any of my podgy tum? Nope, I only gave you half a story, half of the reality. It is just another way of lying.

One of the great things about blogging all of this is that I’ve met some great people online. I am in a shredding group on facebook. As everyone was posting their ‘before’ pictures, they would comment on how much they hated their bodies when in fact they were normal sized and shaped bodies for women who had quite recently given birth. All this sharing will hopefully let women see what is normal post-pregnancy. And so here is my before and after. Suffice to say my anxiety levels are sky high posting this:

Before and After

4. A kick up the arse is needed.

I love this 30 day shred because it kick starts putting exercise into the daily routine of my life. After a month, I have finally figured out I need to plan my workout into my day as much as I plan my work into my day. I stick to my plan too. If something comes along and derails my day, I put on my gym clothes anyway and do it when I can.

I started this shred struggling with level 1. Today, I ran up a big old hill in the rain. That may not seem like much but I detest rain, running and hills more than anything. I get up and I do it not because I want to be skinny but because I want to be strong. We have a newly installed pull up bar in our house. I can barely lift off of the ground but I try each day because I know being strong is a realistic goal.

This is the point of the shred, not to just lose the weight but to know that a daily piece of exercise is a good thing. This is my ‘what next?’. The final few days of this challenge were the hardest because I was so ready to move on to the next thing. I now run home from the school run, do some work out before starting work, have picked up a yoga class on a Friday evening with friends and even do some strength work outs with my husband. I have 6 week abs, kettlebells and ballet arm challenges all lined up next plus runs getting booked in. I cannot wait.

5. Your body is the only one you need consider for goals.

It is very hard not to compare yourself to others, especially if you have groups that are doing workout challenges with you but your body is unique and special to you. Your fitness is like no one else’s and the only person you should be in competition with is yourself. Wise words that I should heed sometimes as well. Not sit on my phone after 3 glasses of wine being miserable that other people have lost more weight in the same time. We all tell lies about our bodies in one way or another, we only show what we want other people to see.

So what is next?

Well, I’m not going to bore everyone with daily photos of my 6 week abs, goodness knows I was bored of my instagram feed by the end of this month.  But I am going to keep working out and striving for my goals. I am also speaking to some women who have inspired me over this past month to talk about what keeps them going, how they’ve felt about their post-birth bodies.

A Trifle Unhealthy


As the title suggests, I have been a trifle unhealthy of late. I am not proud of it. Personally, I blame the fact I have been using snacks to placate the children on trips and outings during the holidays and therefore chowing down on them myself. Although really it is all my own fault.

I don’t actually feel guilty about this because a. that creates a bad relationship with food and b. I simply refuse to look at instagram and therefore cannot see all those rainbow bowls of fruit and vegetables which sometimes make me feel inadequate. I love bread. There I’ve said it.

So, to celebrate this I am giving you my vegan trifle recipe that I made for my daughter’s first birthday. I admit, I cheated by buying instant jelly and pre-made custard* so it wasn’t really that complicated but I needed uncomplicated. We had a house guest the night before when I tasked myself with preparing a triple layer, sugar-free, vegan vanilla cake that all went tits up when I didn’t clasp the cake tin together properly and one layer leaked all over the freshly cleaned oven. I wasn’t the one who cleaned the oven so decided to let the other layer bake. My husband was less impressed with burnt on cake mix at the bottom of the oven. However, it all turned out for the best.

This trifle brings together a number of recipes from other sources including the vanilla cake recipe on the Vegan Society, custard from The Good House Keeping cook book**


For the sponge layer:

100g self raising flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

50g sugar (or enough agave to make it sweet if not using sugar).

60ml vegetable oil

160ml cold water

1tsp vanilla essence

For the Jelly layer:

1 sachet of vegan jelly

A handful each of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

For the custard layer:

Either vegan pre-made custard such as Alpro or:

2tsp vanilla essence

1 1/2 tbsp cornflour

1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar

300 ml soya milk (use vanilla if you want)

1 x banana***

For the cream layer:

1 x carton of coconut cream. You could use the tinned coconut milk too. Pop two in the fridge the night before to ensure good separation and then spoon out only the hard cream at the top. I just bought a carton of solely the hard cream.

1 good squirt of agave



  1. Following the instructions to make a vanilla sponge, pre-heat your oven to 375 /gas mark 5. Mix all the ingredients together  in a bowl.
  2. Depending on size preference either spoon the mixture into a yorkshire pudding tray to make 4 discs or into a cupcake tray. Make sure you grease the bottom with oil or non-dairy butter before hand, even if it is non-stick. Bake for approx 15 minutes or until your knife/skewer pokes into the middle and comes out clean.
  3. While the sponge is cooking, prepare your custard. Mix the cornflour and sugar together with a little (put in by the teaspoon) milk until a smooth paste is achieved.
  4. In a non-stick pan heat the milk until boiling and then add the cornflour mixture. You must stir all the time from this point. Bring back to the boil and cook for 2 minutes where a custard consistency should have formed.
  5. Put the custard into a jug or bowl. Allow to cool a little and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  6. Once your sponge has fully cooled you can start assembly and jelly making. Place the sponge layer at the bottom of the bowl and sprinkle your fruit over the top.
  7. Prepare your jelly grains according to the packet. Normally this involves stirring water into the grains on the hob for 5 minutes. Once ready and before it has cooled, pour over the fruit and sponge. Place in the fridge to set.
  8. Once the jelly and custard has set, pour the custard layer over the jelly. Then slice the banana width way and layer on top of the custard.
  9. Put your coconut cream into a bowl with a good squirt of agave and maybe some vanilla essence if you wish. Using a hand blender (you can use a whisk but it will take longer) blend the cream until it is a creamy consistency. Pour over the banana and smooth down with the back of a spoon or a knife.
  10. Add sprinkles and refrigerate until serving.

So, after a summer of baking and eating it is time for me to start another 30 Day Shred. Follow my progress on here, Twitter or Instagram. Feel free to join in too. I’ll be tracking how I physically look rather than my weight because I can be the same weight and widely differing dress sizes. This is about confidence, health and completing the challenge.

* I have managed to make custard before from the Good House Keeping recipe and it turned out great.

**A note on this cook book belonging in my collection. It was a christmas present from my step-Grandparents one year. I think I may have been 14 years old. I was neither in the least bit interested in housekeeping or cooking and thought it was black humour on the part of my grandmother. My mum assured me it wasn’t and I shouldn’t have been so ungrateful as to laugh aloud at such an expensive and thoughtful gift. Given that my grandmother had a wicked sense of humour and often took the mick out of my parents, I still feel it was a joke present given to a teenager who could burn a pan of water. I shall treasure this book forever.

*** I have no idea if banana belongs in a trifle. I had a long drawn out discussion about this with a friend before the making of said trifle. However, I believe that bananas and custard belong together like tea and cake.