Sarah Answers Mum’s Big Christmas Question in Mother & Baby

Sarah Beeson MBE is a former health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family (£9.99, Harper Thorson). In November 2017 Edition of parenting magazine Mother & Baby  Sarah shares her advice on celebrating Christmas as a new family.

Question: We’ve always taken it in turns to go to my parent’s house and the in-law’s house for Christmas. Now we’ve got a baby, we want to stay at home, by ourselves. How should I handle telling everyone – I don’t want to upset them!

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay in your own home for Christmas. When it comes to telling your families you and your partner can work as a team by being positive, clear and firm about your decision.

First of all tell both families as soon as possible so everyone has time to adjust and adapt to the new arrangements. When you’re both relaxed and calm each of you could phone your parents to let them know what you’ve decided.

Let your parents know how much you’ve enjoyed their hospitality during past Christmases but that you both feel this is the time to start an exciting new chapter in creating special Christmas memories for your little one. Thank your parents for all they’ve done and if you’d like to make them part of the festivities maybe suggest a family tradition they can pass on in the build up to Christmas Day. Make it clear that it isn't open to negotiation and it’s a decision you
and your partner have taken together.

Discuss with your partner beforehand if you’ve got ideas on how your families could be involved. If they don’t live too far away maybe you’d like to meet for lunch or tea on Christmas Eve and go to a Crib Service with your baby.

Whatever you decide give everyone plenty of notice and don’t feel like the rest of your days have to be spent making everyone else happy. Do what you feel is manageable whether that’s having visitors on other days or going to stay with family for a night.

It may be next year you’ll feel like doing things differently but the way we spend Christmas doesn’t have to be set in stone. Whatever you decide be resolute and don’t get drawn into lengthy explanations or heated discussions. Try your best to be calm, clear, positive and thankful for the love you’ve received and will now give to your own child and enjoy your special first Christmas together as a new family.

Sarah Beeson’s MBE is a former health visitor and author of parenting guide Happy Baby, Happy Family and health visiting memoir Our Country Nurse published by HarperCollins available in paperback, eBook and audiobook.

‘A Cornish Gift’ by Fern Britton #BookReview @Fern_Britton @W6BookCafe @Fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #BookBloggers

A Cornish Gift by Fern Britton published by  HarperCollins is a delightful collection of short stories available in Hardback and e-book which have previously been published in e-book as separate stories called A Cornish Carol, The Stolen Weekend and The Beach Hut.

If  you’re a Fern Britton fan and have read all her previous books bear in mind that this a collection of previously published ebooks so  you don’t buy the same book twice. But if you haven’t read them this hardback collection of stories would make a lovely gift for someone who is looking for a cosy read this christmas.

Christmas comes to the little village of Pendruggan and Cornwall’s very own Mr Rochester, Piran Ambrose, discovers the true meaning of the festive season when even he can’t resist the village celebrations. Meanwhile, best friends Penny and Helen are embarking on a stolen weekend of blissful indulgence but best laid plans often go awry and the ladies are in for a big surprise. In an idyllic cottage on the Cornish cliffs, the Appleby family and their bearded collie, Molly, are having a holiday to remember. It’s time for a little Cornish escape for all.

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I read Fern Britton’s Cornish novel A Good Catch last summer and really enjoyed it. Her books are very like her, warm and funny, and this collection of stories were great fun to read. There’s a huge amount of bonne amie in all three stories and it certainly made me want to pack up my bags for a weekend and head from West London to the West Country.

The characters of Ex-Londoner, TV Producer and vicar’s wife Penny, and her otherhalf, the gentle-mannered vicar of Pendruggan Simon, and their good friends Ex-Londoner Helen and her  fisherman boyfriend, historian and brooding Cornishman Pirran, feature in all three stories. As do colourful locals from the village which give the books a saga quality. I recognised characters from A Good Catch as well, and it soon becomes like seeing old friends in the local pub.

There’s a huge element of escapism in the books which makes the tone easy to read and refreshing. As a busy working mum, having the excuse to put on my pjs for an early night to read them felt like a real treat. I read a story a night and passed three evenings in the company of lovingly created characters and enjoyed the ride with the same enthusiasm I would have curled up with a copy of The Famous Five many years ago.

Making the transition from screen to page Fern Britton writes with the same affability, good humour and natural charm that have made her a household name as a presenter.

Reviewed by Author Amy Beeson

Come to Book Club

We’ll be chatting about A Cornish Gift at our virtual Book Club on Facebook Live at 8pm Thursday 26 October. Pop over and join us for some book chat.

#BookReview ‘The Woman at 72 Derry Lane’ by Carmel Harrington @HappyMrsH @W6BookCafe @Fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #BookBloggers

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane is Carmel Harrington’s fifth novel published by HarperCollins. It’s already published in the author’s home nation of Ireland and will be released in the UK on 16 November in paperback and is already available on kindle and audiobook.

Carmel Harrington’s other autumn read is Cold Feet The Lost Years published by Hodder & Stoughton. So, it was lovely surprise to see The Woman at 72 Derry Lane in ITV’s new series of Cold Feet being read by Adam’s new girlfriend Tina.

On a leafy suburban street in Dublin, beautiful, poised Stella Greene lives with her successful husband, Matt. The perfect couple in every way, Stella appears to have it all. Next door, at number 72 however, lives Rea Brady. Gruff, bad-tempered and rarely seen besides the twitching of her net curtains, rumour has it she’s lost it all…including her marbles if you believe the neighbourhood gossip. But appearances can be deceiving and when Stella and Rea’s worlds collide they realise they have much in common. Both are trapped in a prison of their own making. Has help been next door without them realising it?

Win a Book

We’ll be giving away a copy of The Woman at 72 Derry Lane during our Book Club on Facebook on Thursday 26 October at 8pm. Simply  comment during the live to enter.

Authors Carmel Harrington and Amy Beeson

I met the lovely Carmel Harrington at the HarperCollins Summer Party at the V&A in London and she’s a warm and funny in person as she is on the page.

Plot twist

A cry of “plot twist” is the mum of the Madden Family’s favourite phrase when things don’t go according to plan. Family is a really strong theme throughout this book which is packed with scenes around of the kitchen tables of Dublin sharing hopes, dreams, loss and making plans for the future whilst enjoying the odd take-away and bottle of wine.

The book focuses on the lives of glamorous twenty-seven-year-old Stella at number 70 and her sixty-year-old neighbour Rea at 72. Both women are isolated in their leafy suburban homes and have become physically and mentally trapped by the sorrow of catastrophic pasts events neither of them want to talk about. Stella and Rea’s unlikely friendship creates a lifeline for both women to emerge from the shadows of regret and pain if  only they can overcome their fears and face up to Stella’s charming but chilling husband Matt, before time runs out.

There’s lots of fun, warmth and friendship in the book and I really enjoyed the flamboyant character of Charlie who brings fabulous hair, musicals and laughter into Stella and Rea’s formerly gloomy days.

Family seems to be everything for the central characters in The Woman at 72 Derry Lane, both your biological ties and the family you create from the people who support you and help you come what may.

Reviewed by Author Amy Beeson

Come to Book Club

We’ll be chatting about The Woman at 72 Derry Lane at our virtual Book Club on Facebook Live at 8pm Thursday 26 October. Pop over and join us for some book chat.

‘Alias Grace’ by Margaret Atwood #BookReview #BookBloggers @MargaretAtwood @ViragoBooks #AliasGrace

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood was first published in Great Britain by Bloomsbury in 1996 and then Virago Press in 1997. It was Short-listed for the Man-Booker Prize in 1996 before Atwood won the Booker Prize with another incredible book ‘The Blind Assassin.’

I first read ‘Alias Grace’ after finished my degree in English Literature & Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2003. After watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Channel 4 this summer and rereading the book I decided to go back and read more Atwood. I found myself devouring her prose as hungrily as I did as an undergraduate. Though much has changed in my life and the world around us in those intermittent fifteen years my reading of the book has undoubtedly changed as well.

Now A TV Series

‘Alias Grace’ is currently a new series on Netflix and I’ll be certain to try to watch it very soon. There’s TV-tie-in edition of the book to accompany the six-part series.

‘Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.’ Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim? Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery.

The Plot

The book is set in Canada and is a work of fiction although it is based on the housemaid Grace Marks who was convicted at the age of sixteen with her supposed paramour and fellow servant James McDermott for the brutal murder of Mr Thomas Kinnear and his lover and housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in 1843. After which McDermott was hanged but after numperous petitions, Grace’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment at Kingston Penitentiary

Dr Simon Jordan a young American is keen to establish his own asylum and is invited by the committee petitioning for Grace’s release to come to Kingston and write a report on her. In his efforts to uncover the truth, Dr Jordan spends afternoons with Grace as she sews for the Governor’s wife and daughters at the Governor’s house. As Grace spins out the tale of her impoverished childhood in Ireland, emigrating to Canada and her work as a domestic servant Dr Jordan is ensnared by her story and so are we.

A book where fact and fiction is so intimate, sinister and blurred it is a fascinating revelation of the sensual workings of the mind and the grubby realities of the body. Is Grace the victim or do we want her to possess the power of a murderess? As Dr Jordan strives and fails to uncover the real Grace, we the reader switch places with him as analyst as we learn about his actions, feelings and fantasies. When all is said and done it is Grace herself who has the last word.

Reviewed by Amy Beeson

Book club Discussion

We’ll be chatting about Alisa Grace at our virtual Book Club on Facebook Live at 8pm Thursday 26 October. Pop over and join us for some book chat.

Who are you today, mummy?

Author and mum Amy Beeson shares her experiences of looking after a child over the summer holidays whilst launching a new book with workingmums

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After publishing three books with HarperCollins, running my own business and doing the school run I’ve learnt that women maybe multitaskers but focusing on what you want to achieve most of all each day and feeling fulfilled by small achievements is what success looks like for me. Book sales and client wins are fantastic but they’re intangible and can sometimes leave you feeling a bit flat. Focusing on putting on a great book event one day and then making pancakes with my daughter the next morning feels more real than striving for an end goal since I left the corporate world.

The corporate world is playing catch up; they talk about flexible working but we’re actually doing it.

I did find pregnancy and the return to work challenging because becoming a mum changed me. It changed my relationship with work. I love my job but I’ve got at least three full time jobs (I’m a mum, an author and business owner) but I can’t be all three at the same time, not in the way I want to. I ask myself who am I right now? Over the holidays I was a mum all of the time and an author most of the time, because our new book Our Country Nurse was published and my daughter was off school. There wasn’t much space for client work but that’s OK because most of my clients were away.

For me the biggest challenge is still trying to be present in what I’m doing. Not letting mummy guilt creep in whilst I’m writing and not thinking about emails when I’m with my daughter. And it never gets any easier, it’s never going to not be busy. What I’ve discovered over the last few years is that I need to take responsibility for feeling in control.

I’ve learnt so much by connecting with other mums about what works for them and I’ve discovered that being great at your job doesn’t mean you have to work all the time. I work best in bursts of about two hours – I can get a lot done in those two hours! Then it makes complete sense to go for quick walk, eat something nice, or do some yoga – that’s not slacking; it’s giving my mind and body some sustenance so when I come back to do another two hour burst of writing or client consultations I’m at my optimum.

When you’re in an corporate environment most of the time you have to follow someone else’s rules whether they work for you or not. I get to take a fresh look at each day and ask myself what I need to achieve and how best to set myself up to succeed. Flexible working enables you to pick the time and place that means you always do your best work.

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My mum is probably the kindest colleague I’ll ever have. Whoever you work with be a kind boss to yourself.

Once my daughter’s in bed if I’m working towards something big I’ll do another few hours on the laptop but I don’t do that all the time because it’s not healthy. During the run up to Our Country Nurse coming out I was working till midnight and we’ve had lots of book events and PR to do.

My mum said to me, ‘Let’s enjoy this. Let’s not miss out the pleasure of seeing our book come out by letting all the thoughts of what we need to do spoilt it.’ Sarah is always the first person to tell me to not do too much. Sometimes that’s hard to hear because nothing just falls into your lap; it takes hard work, but you have to ask yourself would you expect the same of someone else? I might expect a colleague to do long hours when it was necessary but not very often, so I try not to expect more of myself than I would of others.

When I do have to work long hours I make a deal with myself that I can do this for a week but next week I’ll need to change things because otherwise I’ll burn out. Part of the joy of working for yourself is doing what fulfils you and that changes day by day. Most of all I want to feel happy, to me nowadays that is what success feels like.

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Amy Beeson runs Wordsby Communications and has a successful writing partnership with her mum Sarah Beeson MBE. Their new book Our Country Nurse is set in a country village in 1975 and is bursting with stories of mums journeys during pregnancy and motherhood.

You can spoil babies you know (No you can’t!) How many out of these Ten parenting myths have you heard?

Sarah shares some of the myths parents were told in the 1970s that they’re still being told today with Female First.

Have you been told any of these Myths?

Myth One: You can’t get pregnant when breastfeeding
Myth Two: There’s no harm in leaving babies to cry themselves to sleep
Myth Three: All babies wean at six months
Myth Four: All women can have sex just six weeks after giving birth
Myth Five: You only get postnatal depression with a newborn baby
Myth Six: Babies can’t choke
Myth Seven: If your child bites it’s best if you bite them back
Myth Eight: We don’t need vitamin supplements
Myth Nine: When your child misbehaves putting them in the naughty corner will put a stop to it
Myth Ten: You can spoil babies

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Parenting expert and author Sarah Beeson MBE has worked with families for over four decades. Her latest book Our Country Nurse written with her daughter Amy Beeson, is set in a country village in 1975 and is bursting with stories of mums’ journeys during pregnancy and motherhood. Sarah shares some of the myths mums were told in the 1970s that they’re still being told today with Female First.

Meet Author Sarah Beeson MBE at Newcastle Under Lyme Library this Thursday

free event at newcastle library on 29 September at 2pm

Author and former Staffordshire Health Visitor Sarah Beeson MBE will be giving a reading, taking questions and signing copies of her latest memoir Our Country Nurse at Newcastle Under Lyme Library at 2pm on Thur 29 September as part of their History Month.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Libraries Chief said:

“It’s great to welcome Sarah to Staffordshire’s libraries to meet some of her fans and to celebrate the launch of her new book.”

“It’s interesting to think that some of Sarah’s memoirs might well draw from some of her time as a nurse in Staffordshire. I’m sure we will see a good turn-out and I hope the county’s budding writers are inspired by her success and the talks.”

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Newcastle Under Lyme Library, 30 Ironmarket Newcastle-under-Lyme Staffordshire ST5 1AT

Telephone 01782 297300

Come to Facebook Live Book Club on Thursday

Come to Book Club with Sarah Beeson MBE and Amy Beeson 8-9pm Thursday 22 September on Facebook Live

Join us with a glass of wine or a mug of tea from the comfort of your own home for a little bit of book chat. We’ll be finding out what readers think of our new book Our Country Nurse and talking about what we’re reading in the Beeson Household this September.

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TAKE PART

All you have to do is scoot on over to Facebook between 8-9pm to see what we’re up to. It’s a complete free-for-all and you don’t even have to leave your own sofa.

Tell us what you’re reading, give us some hot tips for books to read this autumn and share with us your thoughts on Our Country Nurse.

The books we’re reading at the moment include Mapp & Lucia by EF Benson, Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy, Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens, The Secret Wife by Gill Paul and the audiobook of Our Country Nurse.

See you later book worms.

Sarah and Amy x

Behind the Scenes of the BBC (The Archers, BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live)

The new iPhone 7 has landed and thank heavens I had my (not new) iPhone on Sunday night because without it I wouldn’t have been able to video, photograph, tweet and navigate my way around Broadcasting House in an evening where I was listening live to The Archers down the pub with Dame Jenni Murray from Woman’s Hour for BBC Breakfast. Then me, Takbir and Ava went up to the studios to talk to Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 Live on the top news story of the week for The 5 Live Hit List. Amy x

BBC BREAKFAST

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It was surreal and fabulous in be listening to the radio in the company of other Archers Fans in a cosy pub round the corner from BBC Broadcasting House. As well as me, Takbir and Ava there was Dame Jenny Murri (Woman’s Hour), Claire Cohen (The Telegraph), Lucy Freeman (Radio 4). Polly Neate (Woman’s Aid) and other fans including Sandra Paul, Ursula Knight, Mike Jones and Tom Middlehurst and young listener Annie.

the jury

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We knew all along that Helen was innocent of course but it was rather fun and at times nail-biting to be giving our verdict on The Archers jurors which included Dame Eileen Atkins, Catherine Tate, Nigel Havers, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Cerith Flinn, Tam Williams and Graham Seed who was formerly Nigel Pargetter in the long running radio soap.

FINAL EPISODE OF tHE ARCHERS TRIAL WEEK

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When we heard Rob Titchener talk to Helen at the end of the episode we all jumped. This is what an Archers fan’s face looks like when they hear his insidious tones. It was a fantastic experience, I hope I get to listen with other fans down the pub again. The hour-long special really kept us on the edge of our seats hoping that Helen would finally be set free.

DR WHO MAGIC AT BROADCASTING HOUSE

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We then raced round the corner for my radio interview at the BBC. Ava skipped into the building (she’s been there before for my interview with Harriet Scott on being a working mum on BBC Radio London) but back then she slept through it in the buggy. Now she was eager to enjoy the sights of the Beeb especially the Tardis and Darlek from Dr Who (she does love that show).

INTERVIEW ON IPHONE 7 AND APPLE BRAND ON RADIO 5 LIVE

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5 LIVE HIT LIST INTERVIEW

You can listen to the interview on the 5 Live Hit List on BBC iPlayer Radio with Emma Barnett, Elinor Mills (Editor The Sunday Times) and author and Wordsby Brand Consultant Amy Beeson. But here’s the highlights. (From 1 hour 46 minutes into the show).

Emma Barnett presents 5 Live’s rundown of the top 30 news, politics, sport and showbiz stories of the week that are making the biggest impact across social media and online. The No. 1 Story of the week shared online was the iPhone 7.

EMMA: It’s the iPhone 7 of course! The latest version was launched this week in San Francisco with the company’s decision to ditch the headphones and socket. Apple says the move was motivated by courage which has brought mixed reactions from many former iPhone fans…Whether you love it or hate it Apple is now arguably the biggest company in the world. The launch of a new iPhone is a major global event but what is it about the company that has given it an almost cultlike following. Elinor Mills is still with me and Amy Beeson who is a brand consultant and author who has been watching the launch for us this week and has more on the most expensive iPhone to date. So, Amy, wireless headphones was it a brave decision or a way to make more money?

AMY: It’s a really tricky question. When I heard about the socket and the headphones I immediately thought not again. I’m going to have to go out and buy all new accessories. My initial reaction was quite a negative reaction. Using  a word like “courage” for this move, as a writer was maybe not the word I would have chosen. I went on watched the actual ad and I remembered the guys and gals who developed it in San Francisco really hold the development of seamless technology in their core brand values. So, on the one hand do we need it? On the other hand, as a brand having seamless technology is the next evolutionary step of the iPhone. It is at such a premium price but Apple is not known as a cheap product.

EMMA: It’s not, it’s a luxury product.  Elinor Mills, when you’re looking at something like this coming out, it’s never on a Sunday these launches. It’s kinda not like any other tech launch is it?

ELINOR: I think it’s fascinating that it’s top of the list and we were all discussing in conference last week that we were going to have something on the iPhone 7 because we know everyone is interested. We know that’s because so many of us spend so much of our lives on these, it’s almost we spend more time with them than we do with our children and anything else, so I think people are very obsessive. On the headphone front I think it’s a disaster. The only way I can find my white headphones in my bag is by pulling the wires. Just two little tiny bits of plastic that sit in my ear I think I would lose them the whole time.

EMMA: You get can big headphones like we’re wearing too and they’ll be wireless.

ELINOR: I also think it’s weird in a brand way because the white headphones was so iconic it was in all their adverts. You’d have people in black with the white wire symbolising the iPod so I think that’s interesting because it maybe wireless technology but the wire they made a real fetish about.

EMMA: A big part of the Apple launches, Amy, are what Tim Cook the CEO has to say. It used to be Steve Jobs. What they seem like is important and him in a car with James Corden doing a bit of Carpool Karaoke to enter the stage. There has been criticism that since Steve Jobs passed away the brand has lost some it’s sheen. Where do you stand on that?

AMY: That’s very true. Where a brand is synonymous with a personality, like Virgin and Richard Branson, it definitely does some damage to the value of that brand. But Apple has never really strayed away from their core brand values that came with Think Different in 1997. Next year it’ll be 20 years since Steve Jobs launched that campaign and it set the bar for what brand is.

ELINOR: I think the problem is though that Apple haven’t really come up with anything new really since Steve Jobs went. He had already got in train the iPhone, iPods were a big success but you could argue that Samsung or those kind of people are doing more innovative stuff.

AMY: I think that’s because Apple have never been about new products, they’re reinventive. So, they’ve always taken someone else’s product and taken it to another level. They weren’t the first people to do MP3s but followed up with the iPod. They put the “I” into that technology, they make it their own and it’s very intuitive technology.

EMMA: There are conspiracy theories. I remember when I used to be a tech correspondent and Steve Jobs passed away there was this whole thing that he had left years of prototypes, that he had left years of what he wanted to come. So, do you think there’s a delay or do you think there’s nothing left in the tank?

ELINOR: I think they’ve run out.

EMMA: You think they have? Amy?

AMY: It’s really tricky. Are you a custodian of that brand or are you leading that brand? And which is worse and which is better? I really don’t know. Steve Jobs is an impossible person to follow, I wouldn’t want to have to do that.

EMMA: You wouldn’t want to have to do that? Now, how do you think people think about Apple apart from expensive?

AMY: Apple really has almost this rock star quality. When they release something like the iPhone 7 it made me think it almost has all the hype around it like Adele’s new album coming out. There’s all the build up towards it, it gets released and they’ll be people queuing up around the block to get one. I know for a fact from a branding point of view they look at music a lot in development. So, not only do we access music through our iPhones as a brand they really draw from music marketing.

ELINOR: I just wonder if the sheen’s coming off a bit? Because the products are really quite cool because Jobs had done them before he went but I don’t think they’ve really come up with anything new and a bit of wireless headphone isn’t really going to cut it. Where’s the new thing? Where’s the new iPad. His was all about creativity and design and giving us objects that we didn’t even know we wanted that would transform our lives in the way that we used technology. I don’t think they’ve had a game changer like that for a long time.

EMMA: The watch was meant to be a big moment wasn’t it?

ELINOR: That was a dud.

EMMA: I don’t see many people wearing them – it’s an anecdotal view. Technology is often very difficult to get right, we saw with Google Glass, somebody wearing something on their face as a glasses wearer that was never going to work out for me. Quick line on that Amy, the double lens camera does that feed into the culture of innovation at all?

AMY: It very key in how people want to use their iPhones. I don’t know how different it is, but in the way the iPhone has become integral in business and personal life it’s definitely going to make things better for them.

EMMA: Definitely going to make things better. Amy Beeson thank you very much for that. Elinor Mills as always a pleasure. That’s it from the 5 Live Hit List tonight.

END. You can listen to the interview 5 Live Hit List on BBC iPlayer Radio

AMY BEESON

Amy Beeson runs Wordsby Communications and has a successful writing partnership with her mum Sarah Beeson MBE. Their new book Our Country Nurse is set in a country village in 1975 and is bursting with stories of mums journeys during pregnancy and motherhood.