Name: Barbara Turnbull 

Business: Shyloks Beauty

How did you first develop a passion for what you do?

I developed my passion for beauty as a young girl. I loved painting nails and playing with make up. Family and friends always thought I had a talent and encouraged me to study beauty therapy at college.

What were you doing before?

During college, I worked at Pizza Hut as a waitress. I also worked in a salon during college for work experience. Once qualified with NVQ level 2, my friend offered me a job at her salon for a couple of days per week, which worked perfect as I had a baby boy. This helped me to provide for my family and also keep doing a job that I loved.

What gave you the courage to step out and do your own thing and what have been some of the struggles along the way?

I worked for my friend for a few years and also went back to college to achieve my NVQ level 3 qualification. This was difficult: working more hours, going to night school, having course work to do and also juggling being pregnant with my second child and being a mother too. Once I was qualified, my friend who I worked for became pregnant herself and she decided to leave the salon once her baby arrived. She offered me first refusal to take over her business. I couldn’t believe it. It was so exciting and so scary at the same time. I’ve owned the salon for 10 years now. How time flies! It’s just a joy to do something you have such passion for and having the chance to make a living out of it is just amazing.

What do you love about what you do?

The thing I love most about my job is the clients that come into the salon and the relationship I’ve built with them -just listening to the things that go on in their lives whether it be good or bad and making them feel good about themselves while having their treatments. I love to see a bride smile when she sees her wedding make up for the first time and being a part of the preparation of her wedding day. I can honestly say I’m truly blessed as I am doing my dream job that’s just perfect for me.

What’s made you feel proud of what you’ve achieved?

I am so proud of what I’ve achieved since leaving school. I found all of the practical side of becoming a beauty therapist really easy and enjoyable. However, the theory side of things I really struggled with. I’m not that academically clever. There was a lot to learn about the anatomy: layers of the skin, muscles in the body, the skeletal system, lymphatic drainage system etc. We also needed to know all the contraindications to each treatment. It took me a little longer to manage to complete this but I did it. I’m also so proud of the fact that my business is still going strong since I took over 10 years ago.

What would you say to another woman contemplating doing her own thing?

Believe in yourself,. Just try and see what happens. Have faith, take a chance and never look back. Don’t be scared to fail. You never know what’s possible unless you give it your all.

I’ve just read ‘The Glass Castle’ by Jeannette Walls. And I absolutely loved it.

If you plan to see the film, I urge you to read the book first. I cannot imagine how the film could possibly even come close to the book. It’s all about the tone, you see. The story’s told – this true story that cannot be true and yet is – by a daughter. A young daughter at the start of the book – an unreliable narrator who doesn’t know any different and who thinks that she’s living a normal life. Why wouldn’t she? It’s all she knows. As she grows older, she begins to see that her life is not a normal one, if there is such a thing. But she is loved, particularly by her father: affirmed by him, even though he’s a drunk who struggles to ever hold down a job.

And so Jeannette writes about her childhood with affection. It’s not all bad. Some of it is pretty bad, but these kids are so resilient and have been raised by their mother with immense self-confidence that they will always find a way to survive. But some of the time, life with her parents is wildly exciting. Her mother is like a child herself, living every day with a sense of simplicity and wonder. She remains an enigma to the end: it really is as if she chooses to live the way she does – and to make her kids endure the harsh consequences of her decision.

If you were to see the young Jeannette with her dirty clothes rifling through the bin at school to find food to eat, you’d be quick to draw conclusions about home life and her parents, I’m sure. We all would. We would never expect to find a mother who loves to paint and read and write, a father with an incredible mind and scientific knowledge. Society wasn’t made for people like this. They don’t care enough about what other people think. They despise conventionality and refuse to live anything resembling a ‘normal’ life. They don’t ‘care’ for their kids in a conventional way – they don’t even meet their basic needs. But they do care: they’re proud of their kids as they grow up and make their own way in the world. They want to be near them, to support them as best they can. These are not selfish people: misguided maybe, damaged themselves most probably, but generous and open-hearted and brimming with optimism.

The glass castle becomes a symbol of Jeannette’s dad’s dreams of a better life  – a wonderful structure created and designed entirely by himself that will never, ever be built. A symbol of that drive that affirms that life can be better than this.

I have to admit that I could see myself reflected in this style of parenting at times. Not on the same scale of course, but I found myself understanding what it is to get engrossed in a book and forget to pick the kids up, to write rather than clean the bathroom, or to shake out a shirt in the morning rather than ironing it. I don’t care enough about conventional standards either, I don’t think. But I do know how to laugh with my kids and enjoy spending time with them and make an adventure out of nothing…and maybe these things do count for something in the end.

This is a beautifully written book, which is why you need to read it rather than watch the film. There’s a warmth that I can’t begin to describe. A horror too, but an admiration for Jeannette and her siblings who find a way to make this life they were born into work. It must have taken a huge amount of courage for adult Jeannette to write this book, so that everyone will now know the way in which she was brought up and the the way her parents continued to live after the move to New York. I hope she’s been met with the understanding and admiration she deserves.

It’s an incredible story, yes, but it’s not just a story. It’s a life, a life that Jeannette and her family are still living.

That’s why we all need to treat it with respect.

As my daughter’s pregnancy progressed, there seemed to be an expectation that I would organise a baby shower for her. After all, I was good at organising things like this.

I’d never organised a baby shower before though. Only ever been to one before. So my first question was –

What exactly is a baby shower?

Traditionally, a baby shower is only held for the first child. Phew!

And it’s usually organised by the child’s grandmother. Yup, that’s me!

A baby shower is a way to celebrate the expected birth of a child by presenting gifts to the expectant mother at a party.

Simple.

Choose a venue. Invite family and friends. They bring gifts. Sorted.

In fact, the term ‘shower’ refers to showering the pregnant woman with gifts. This tradition became popular after WWII to serve the economic function of providing the mother-to-be with the goods needed for the baby’s arrival.

We actually chose a theme. We created a library for the baby by each bringing a favourite book, either from our own childhood or one we’d enjoyed reading to our own children. Everyone seemed to love doing this – it made them remember all those books they hadn’t read in years. We chose ‘Six Dinner Sid’ and ‘The Bear Under The Stairs’. My friend made a pair of book ends with cross-stitch decoration. My new grandchild already has a library of over 50 books and she isn’t even born yet!

So how did I go about organising this baby shower?

  1. Keep it simple

I chose a venue close to home – a local cafe, Watergate Cafe, renowned for its fab baking, which catered for us. We ordered matching baby shower decorations and games from Party Delights. 

2. A couple of games

We played ‘Guess the baby food’ – which met with mixed reactions, especially when I got muddled up and fed a chicken meal to vegetarians. I was mortified!!

We also had a game of ‘Pin the dummy on the baby’.

During the event, we passed round a ball of string and some scissors and everyone guessed the current circumference of the baby bump. Most of us over-estimated by a long way – ‘How fat do you think I am?’

3. A couple of activities

There was a decorated box  – decorated with unicorns, obviously! – in which to put advice and best wishes for the new parents which is not to be opened until the baby is born,

We also had a sheet where everyone could guess the date, time, weight and length of the bay on arrival. That’s one we won’t know the winner of for a few weeks hopefully!

 

4. Lots of time to chat over a cup of tea

Family and friends had come together from quite a distance. Many hadn’t seen each other in quite a while. They didn’t want me organising too much. They wanted time to socialise.

5. Creating a library for the baby

I mentioned it before but that was a great idea. Those books will accompany the baby on the first few years of her life. If she develops a passion for books like her grandma, I’ll be happy.

So that was my first baby shower to organise. I’m so glad it went well. With five kids of my own, I have a feeling it may not be my last!

 

Last night, there were moments in time when I was fifteen again: not wishing I was fifteen again or remembering when I was fifteen, but actually fifteen again. So where was I? At the Get Down Rolladisco Newcastle! Before the event, I’d been unsure. I wasn’t certain I would remember how to skate again. But I guess it’s like riding a bike. After five minutes of tentative venturing out on the floor, I found my feet. The hired skates were better than any hired skates I remembered – they ran smoothly with no glitches – and the floor was pretty even too.

My friend Barbara went through the same process through the course of the evening, if her Facebook post is anything to go by!

Ok so I couldn’t manage roller boots when I was younger but a roller disco sounded like a great idea…. at first I could barely stand, my first pint 🍺 put me on my arse (literally) second pint 🍻 and I was getting my groove on – but definitely not chancing a third 😜
Fab night as always ladies 💗

I loved it. Absolutely loved it. That incredible feeling of sliding and gliding with minimal effort, the breeze blowing past my cheeks, my arms swaying naturally to the rhythm of my skating. There were people all around me – friends there too somewhere, but I felt all alone, in a bubble of happiness. I felt confident too. Able to dodge my way around less confident skaters. At one point, one lad bumped into me and nearly went down. He flashed me a smile as I firmly held his arm to keep him upright and moving.

It was one of those moments where you are transported out of the now into the then. It was such a cool venue – check out the Boiler Shop in Newcastle when you get the chance. The music helped too, as well as the lighting, the vibe, the outfits other people were wearing. I got completely caught up in admiring some of the costumes and planning what I would wear the next time. We were all there to have a good time, all together, regardless of age. It wasn’t all about ‘getting mortal’ as Geordie nights out are depicted in the media. Here, people were playing Giant Jenga and Connect Four and Draughts, eating retro sweets and stone-baked pizza and getting sprinkled with glitter.

If I had caught a glimpse of a reflection of myself, I don’t think I would have recognised it as me. When I put on those skates, I became that younger version of me – the one with the boyfriend who picked her up in his MG sports car and drove her to the skating rink in Felixstowe and taught her how to skate backwards. Skating was one thing I was pretty good at back then (even though my violin teacher forbid it because she was worried for my wrists!).

Here in Newcastle, I completely forgot that that young lad who I’d stopped falling over would be seeing me as I am now, not as I was back in the day. I couldn’t let myself dwell on what I might have looked like to others. If I had focused on that, I would not have stepped foot onto the rink in the first place. People my age don’t go to Rolladiscos. What was I thinking of? I should have been concerned about getting an injury or waking up stiff the next morning.

Sod that! If that’s what growing up is about, then count me out!

I guess I have my friends to thank for getting me there. We’re getting into a good groove of finding fun stuff to do and having the confidence to show up and give it a go. Without each other, no way would any of us have the nerve. By believing in each other, we are built up in our own self-belief.

This is a precious thing, something I never take for granted: to have a group of friends who know me and still like me; who allow me to look a fool and love me for it; who would defend my right to do whatever I wanted, regardless of my age.

I hope we’ll still be going along to the Rolladisco in ten years time. We plan to age disgracefully. Actually I hate that word ‘Disgracefully’. It makes it sound like something to be ashamed of. We will not be ashamed or embarrassed or held back by what anyone else may think.

As long as Joanne keep finding fun things on her Facebook feed for us to do, we will show up.

So who’s coming to the next Rolladisco on 2 December?

I’ve just come back from a really good holiday.

I hope you have too.

Nothing remarkable in that, you may be thinking. That’s what we all hope for, right? What makes the fact that I had a good holiday surprising is that that unfortunately is not normally the case. I am rubbish at holidays. Always have been, I don’t do holidays well. There are lots of reasons for this, the main one being that I have to take myself with me.

Yes, that.

It never ends well. The low point is usually some time on day two. I’ve come to expect that now: the only variable is how low that low point plummets down to.

I therefore did not have high expectations for this holiday. For a start, it was in this country. Which meant it would rain and be cold and we wouldn’t be able to entertain our kids and our dogs. I was bracing myself for staying in a self-catering cottage. Preparing meals away from home was always a nightmare in my experience. I was so busy the week leading up to the holiday I didn’t feel at all prepared.

Having said all that, this was a really good holiday.

And here are five reasons why:

  1. I took the best version of me

I don’t know how or why. I wish I did. I could then do it again next time. I have never felt so chilled so quickly. Even in the car on the way down the country, I was smiling to myself. Maybe it was because we were heading back to East Anglia. My roots. A familiar landscape. I found happiness on this holiday: a happy me overflowing with gratitude.

2. The cottage was perfect

As soon as I walked through the door of Little Turnpike Cottage, I felt at home. Everything had been thought of. The kitchen was more well-equipped than my kitchen at home. The vibe was stylish but homely. Lived in. If I was designing a holiday cottage, this is how it would be. We all relaxed into it straightaway.

3. There was something about Woodbridge

Having grown up in Ipswich, I’d never considered Woodbridge a tourist attraction. But it suited me and my family perfectly. Good walks for my man and his dogs. A great cafe Honey and Harvey with a fantastic flat white, a delicious cheese scone with chilli jam and cool vintage decor. And a warm welcome for the dogs. Bookshops and vintage shops and a sale in Fat Face.

4. I felt able to be unapologetically me

I stayed in bed until ten some days. I gazed at the gibbons at Colchester Zoo for as long as I wanted to. I read a lot. I challenged my husband to many games of LINKEE – or KINKEE as our friend insisted on calling it! I had a long bath with bubbles and candles and a glass of wine. I let myself relax and not feel guilty for doing so.

5. I took time out alone with my man

We went to Greenbelt Festival as day visitors on the Saturday. It took some organising. It would have been easier not to. But it mattered. We reconnected with each other and with the essence of who we are. He came alive listening to a debate about poverty; I shone with enthusiasm when I emerged from a session about the spiritual lessons of the zombie apocalypse.

So that was my holiday. Yes, the car broke down in the outside lane of the A12. Yes, getting us, two kids, two dogs and A LOT of luggage back home was a logistical nightmare. But these are not the things we will choose to remember.

We spent time reconnecting with each other, with the family, with friends we hadn’t seen for years. We spent time reconnecting with our past selves, our selves from nearly thirty years ago as we were starting out on this journey together. We reconciled who we were then with who we are now. We found peace in that process.

We stripped everything back and reconnected with ourselves.

That’s the essence of a good holiday.