Cheetahs In My Shoes

living with the imaginary menagerie and all that it entails


You’re Beautiful – Looking Up

I wrote a bit a the weekend about how my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, having been behaving itself quite nicely for a while thank you, had decided to go into flare and that I had woken up bendy last week – partial dislocations, the shakes, wobbles and other fun stuff.

In January next year it will be 20 years since I had my first kneecap surgically removed – and 19 years after the 2nd one coming out.  Before you ask, I don’t have replacements – just some clever re-sewing and some big scars.  With this surgery I lost a huge amount of the nerves in my knees – the ones that send your head the messages about where your legs and feet are in relation to the rest of the world.  Mix this with the lack of coordination that Ehlers Danlos brings and you will probably understand why I spend a huge amount of time looking at my feet.  The messages don’t come from the nerves – I have to use my eyes…

It’s incredibly easy to spend all your time looking down – missing what’s going on around you.  As part of my search for the beauty around us I’ve made a concerted attempt to stand still and look up – and as I have, I’ve spotted our red kites circling, the geese flying past, blackbirds nestbuilding and the most amazing cloud formations.  I’m becoming a bit of a cloud obsessive – I still need to learn what’s what – but the way the light shines through, bounces off and falls on things is a source of endless fascination – much to the disdain of the children at times.

My ‘You’re Beautiful’ this week is photos taken by me looking up.  You will always find things of beauty looking down, but sometimes it’s good for your head, and your heart, to let the rays of the sun offer you some inner warmth.

None of these pictures have been edited – it’s just been me and my camera.

There were some amazing You’re Beautiful’s linked up last week – thank you all.  What could you add this week?  If you need some inspiration try a ‘looking up’ picture – you may just be amazed at what you see.


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Come and join us and share some positivity – and, as with all such link-ups, you’ll get out what you put into it!  Please let us know that you’ve linked up using #yourebeautiful.  You can find me @cheetahsinshoes – and I’ll tweet it out too.

Click here  to link up – I look forward to seeing your beautiful things


Windows on Wildlife – Snails

I know I’ve written a fair amount about our trip to Devon.  It gave us a much needed break and me the chance to get out there with my camera. I wrote last week in You’re Beautiful about my walk to and from the sea after it had rained.  I’m not built for speed and was busy looking at all the flowers around me and soon realised that part of nature’s rich pattern is that something has to live on the plants.

Windows on Wildlife


You’re Beautiful – After The Rain

Firstly, a massive thank you must go to Mammasaurus who hosted You’re Beautiful last week.  Despite her comments about a certain Jubilee thong *ahem* her post was everything that You’re Beautiful is about – if you haven’t read it, go now – it’s here.

We spent last week in Devon – it rained, the winds blew to the predicted 70mph, it rained some more.   Our caravan was full of drying towels and the “oh god what will we do if it rains again tomorrow?” conversation was had (as we opened another bottle of cider to keep out the damp).  But it did stop raining, and the sun did come out and the skies were blue with little white fluffy clouds.

The Cheetah Keeper and his Sister don’t have passports yet – we’ve chosen not to afford them and made the most of holidaying in our beautiful country.  I don’t see it as a ‘staycation’ or ‘holidaying at home’ – we’re off to have an adventure in a part of the world the children have yet to experience – with the added luxury of being able to nip to Tesco’s/Sainsburys/Morrisons as we need to.  We stay on holiday parks in a caravan (albeit one with double glazing and a fair few semi-luxurious touches) and we explore our surroundings.  Admittedly, when the Cheetah Keeper was 16 weeks old this ‘holiday’ left me a crumpled heap sobbing on the beach in Norfolk, but 5 years on, we’ve had a really good time.

When the rain finally stopped one evening and the evening sun started warming our faces I ventured down to the sea with the camera.   The path to the sea was a tad steep (for those of us lacking balance steep slopes aren’t the easiest) so I was travelling very slowly and looking at my feet – which then made me look into the hedgerows.  There I spotted wild strawberries, a beautiful glade, and rain drops clinging to the flowers with the sun glinting on them.  They inspired me this week – rain can be devastating – for those people suffering at the moment I can’t imagine you’ll ever think that rain is beautiful again.  However, at that moment in time, on the way down to (and up from) Fishcombe Cove on the South Devon coast – it made things very beautiful.

So, despite the rain, the stresses of half term and everything that life throws at us, what have you found that’s beautiful (in absolutely any form) this week?  Words, pictures, thoughts, actions, creation?  Something that affects you.  There ends my excessive use of italics for the week!

Click here add your post, use the badge if you’d like and let us know on Twitter too – you can find me @cheetahsinshoes (or click on the link in my sidebar) and use the hashtag #yourebeautiful.

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You’re Beautiful – Close to Home

The original inspiration for You’re Beautiful (just in case you’re wondering) was a tweet from the Black Dog Tribe and a stone in my garden.  That stone became the first You’re Beautiful and subsequently (with a bit of help – thanks again Annie) the badge.  With the car in the garage this week we’ve been staying close to home – which has made me look harder for the beauty around us – depending on which way you look at it “in our backyard” or “on our manor”!

With the weather as it’s been, it’s not been hard to spot beauty all around us (although the lady in Sainsburys with *ahem* everything falling out of everywhere I admit didn’t make it onto my list – sorry).  So here’s my gallery for this week:

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In February I wrote about the death and funeral of a very dear friend of mine.  You can read (if you so wish) that post here.  This last weekend her daughter-in-law, after many, many set-backs completed the Edinburgh Marathon in her memory.  The little corner into which my memories and sadness have been saved seems to have opened up again – but our instructions before her death were not to be sad.  Well I can’t quite do that, but I will dedicate this post to both of these amazing women, for their determination and love on many many levels.

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There were some absolutely gorgeous things linked up last week (thank you all so much) so please bring whatever you’ve found ‘wow worthy’ to the linky this week because positivity in whatever shape, size or type, is good for us all

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… and when you’re done do tell us about it on Twitter – you can find me @cheetahsinshoes and if you’d like to use #yourebeautiful that would be even more brilliant.


You’re Beautiful – Verulamium, St Albans

Woohoo, I’m back on schedule.  Finally catching up with myself after the manic cake baking that has overwhelmed the last month.  I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of celebrations, school reports, work, cake and doing battle with my mind that the anniversary of the children being born is one of joy, not an excuse to bring back the memories of their actual arrival in the world the subsequent dark times that ensued.

We’ve changed the family schedule over this time as well.  No longer are we flogging ourselves to get to gymnastic and trampolining classes after school.  As much as it provided excellent physio and has helped both the Cheetah Keeper and his Sister catch up physically with their peers it was the picnic tea in the car afterwards that was the highlight – not the leaping around.   The Cheetah Keeper’s Sister is now attending “Explore Learning” to help her catch up with her literacy and writing skills (that’s another post altogether) but when she goes is up to us as it’s a drop-in service.

So yesterday, the sun was shining, we had no commitments after school – I had bought a picnic tea at lunchtime from Marks & Spencer, popped in at home on the way from work to pick the children up and collected the swimmers, towels and picnic mat.  As we left school to the sound of 300 children all going “muuuuuuuuuuuuum, can I have an ice-cream” – I could happily say to the children that yes they could, and that we were off to the Splashpark.  We are so fortunate to have the gorgeous Verulamium Park on our doorstep and the splashpark opened on Monday – after negotiations between the Council and the Water Board successfully allowed it to open, despite the water shortages.  Again, woohoo!

So this is what we did yesterday afternoon:

We are so lucky to have such a beautiful park on our doorstep so it’s my You’re Beautiful for the week.  Councils invariably get a hard time – Verulamium Park is an absolute credit to the council team who look after it.

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What have you seen, read, photographed, created or done that has been ‘wow-worthy’ this week?  Come and link up and share your positivity – let us know on Twitter using #yourebeautiful and grab the badge for your blog if you’d like to.

Click here to enter your link and view the list…


You’re Beautiful – Pictures Chosen by the Cheetah Keeper

The Cheetah Keeper was 5 yesterday.  Hence, You’re Beautiful didn’t go up on Wednesday as oddly enough I was a little busy making, errr, cake.  Oh, and wrapping a few presents and stuff like that.  Without the Cheetah Keeper there wouldn’t be a blog and there wouldn’t be You’re Beautiful – so I’ve let him choose a few of his pictures this week.

The obligatory zoo picture!  These are the Carribean (Rosy) Flamingoes at Whipsnade Zoo on Sunday.  Something spooked them (I have no idea what) and they all suddenly dashed and flapped their way across their lake.  And then stopped.  And just walked back again like nothing had happened.  The Cheetah Keeper loves the fact that they have black under their wings but you can’t see it normally (so he says).

As I’ve said before (I think), the Cheetah Keeper is in the Ladybird class at school.  He loves ladybirds – to the extent he’s made himself a ‘tally chart’ on a clipboard to keep a record of how many different sorts he sees and how many of each.  We’ve been fortunate to have a baby ladybird hatch on our Christmas tree and there are a load more eggs so it’s looking promising…  I took this picture with my little ‘handbag camera’ and may admit to being a bit chuffed as to how well it came out!

The moon.  Most people would have cropped this photo down, however, look very closely…. can you see the Cheetah Garage and the steps that go all the way up to it?  The Cheetahs now have so many cars that they have their own, on site garage, complete with a robot that makes sure that everything is working properly, they never run out of spare parts and that the right car is available at all time.  And it’s so big it goes all the way to the mooooooooooooon!

He found his birthday a little overwhelming – it’s been a busy week and there’s only so much you can take (I think he’d have quite liked a duvet day for his birthday).  He chose to wait until his dad got home to open his presents (so that was 5.30pm) and then set about the task with glee…

However, he tucked into the (requested) Cheetah Rock cake with glee.  A treacle toffee pineapple sponge with pineapple buttercream modelled on the rock that the Cheetahs at Whipsnade have.  (I’ll put the recipe up over on Bake Yummy)

Finally, a picture that I’ve chosen.  The Cheetah Keeper: my brave, stoic, bonkers, imagination driven, gorgeous, loving, tolerant and funny little dude. (who also drives me nuts, scares the life out of me and bemuses me on a regular basis…)

What have you found, read, created, photographed or stumbled upon this week that’s beautiful?  A positive thing that makes you think ‘wow’.  Come and link up (the linky’s open until next Tuesday evening) and share a bit of positivity – supporting the Black Dog Tribe along the way.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…


You’re Beautiful – Clouds

This is my 19th You’re Beautiful and for the first week I’ve doubted myself.  Doubted that people want to read about positive, beautiful things, doubted that I had much to add.  Doubted that I was doing this for the right reasons.  So I asked that font of all knowledge, Twitter, whether I should do one this week – and 2 people said yes.  So even if you’re the only 2 people reading this (and you’ll know who you are), this is for you, with love, for replying.

I’ve been endeavouring to do a post called “a week in clouds” – the view from my bedroom window at approximately the same time each evening for a week.  I got all enthusiastic and then the rain set in and I am completely and utterly convinced that you don’t want to see more pictures of wall to wall grey – with added rain splatters for good measure.  So I’ve combined some of the photos that I’ve taken for today’s post – because, you see, I think clouds are pretty amazing photography material and they make you look at the world around you – looking up instead of at our feet.

So, what’s your contribution to You’re Beautiful this week?  Do you want me to keep doing them?  Let me know and link up if you can x

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and if you fancy a bit of cloud spotting yourself, here’s the fab guide from the Met Office…

Met Office guide to cloud types and pronunciations


Justin Bieber – You’re Beautiful

*Cues loads of screaming girlies*

Last week I wrote about some pretty amazing bloggers, making a pretty amazing difference to the Blog it for Babies logocampaign.

And you know what?  We did it.  With the help of some gorgeous bloggers, their children, their friends and a whole load of cake, we supported the completely and utterly bonkers Mammasaurus in her tour around the UK raising awareness of the #BuilditforBabies campaign and a whole load of cash to help build health centres in Bangladesh.  The Cheetah Keeper’s Sister made this to explain:

So, we had cake:

Lots and lots of cake.

The recipe for these morsels of loveliness will be available in a Bake It For Babies book very soon!

And some really awesome other bloggers brought some other yummy cakes too – so thank you all very much!

The Cheetah Keeper’s sister loved wearing the Save the Children T-shirt as she thinks helping people have access to healthcare is important.

She also needed to test the cake because there was some serious preparation needed, ready for the arrival of our celebrity guest…


Justin Bieber

Who even wore a badge saying his name was Annie and he’d do anything for money

His choreographer got everyone busting some groovy moves!  If you want to see the video go and have a look at Actually Mummy’s account of the day and you can also see the list of amazing people who’ve given their time, talents and worldly goods to make this happen.

And then…

Are you ready for this….?


Are you sure…?

Justin Bieber peeled his face off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To absolutely everyone who organised, baked, supplied, supported, listened, danced, sang, photographed, videoed, tweeted, facebooked and has blogged about it…

and thank you so much.

And if you’d like to link up with something, someone, a picture, words or anything else wow-worthy, please do so using the magic linky below:

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You’re Beautiful – #Blogitforbabies

There’s some pretty amazing stuff going on at the moment.  The amazing, super-human, wears her pants over her trousers at all times Mammasaurus is supporting the Save The Children campaign to Build it for Babies and is driving the #blogitforbabies initiative.  Loads of other bloggers are offering their time, have written fantastic posts, donated their worldly goods and put their money where their mouth is buying bricks to build clinics that save lives.  All this is detailed over on and it’s trying to make lives better in parts of the world where people are not as fortunate as we are, whatever we think.

Blog it for Babies logo

Those of us in St Albans are planning to do our ‘bit’ on Tuesday 1st May.  Actually Mummy has persuaded the good people at the Noke Thistle Hotel (just off J21A of the M25 and J6 of the M1 – and very close to the A1 too!) to let us have their Marquee for the day.  From 10.45 you, your friends/colleagues/neighbours/random people dragged off the street, are invited to join us, and our very special guest, Mammasaurus,  for a day of making a difference…

At 11am, for a small donation, you’re invited to join in a Rock Choir session led by the inspirational Abigail Smith who’ll be teaching us a song (you’ll know it), complete with harmonies and moves!  Then it’ll be onto lunch, nattering and cake sale.  The ‘official’ #bakeitforbabies cakes will be on sale as will donations from other amazing blogger/bakers who will be creating their favourites for us to purchase.

Children are, of course, welcome all day.  Then from 3.30 there’ll be some dancing a la Justin Bieber for those who are up for it – including any older children who’ve finished school.   Full details, including the link to the Facebook page are here

You’re Beautiful is about finding the ‘wow-worthy’ things in life and celebrating them.  It’s also about supporting The Black Dog Tribe and doing #onepositivething supporting those of us with mental health issues, past or present.  This week I’ve deviated from stones and clouds to talk about a load of people doing what they can to help others, and if that isn’t just a teeny bit ‘wow-worthy’ I’m not quite sure what is.  Why don’t you come and join us on the day?

You’ve been adding a wonderful selection of beautiful things over on the linky each week – and I’m really grateful (and thoroughly enjoy reading them) that you take the time to share the positivity.  What can you add this week?  It doesn’t have to be world changing stuff – just something that, in your eyes, is beautiful.

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You’re Beautiful – Pizza Time

I had the children to myself on Sunday (their father had had that honour the day before whilst I was at #blogup2012) with no car.  The Cheetah Keeper’s sister was determined that she wanted to go swimming – she was also so tired she was walking into walls and barely upright.  The Cheetah Keeper wasn’t 2 weeks post op (and had had nosebleeds on Friday and Saturday) so he wasn’t going anywhere close to the pool and I’d just finished my antibiotics so the prospect of stripping off to just my cossie was not filling me with parenting enthusiasm.

So we compromised, and took Easter Eggs to our next door neighbours who are, we reckon, the best neighbours you could ever wish for.  We celebrate their festivals with them, they celebrate ours with us.  Generally food is involved – it’s good (they’re fantastic cooks!).

Both the Cheetah Keeper and his Sister think that eating ‘next door’ is far, far better than eating at home – and were offered the chance to make pizza.  Nom.  No questioning that one – so we raided our fridge, their fridge and the corner shop, bread dough was made (they have a bread maker *sigh*) and we had a top morning together.

You’re Beautiful is about recognising the little things in life that are actually pretty stunning and as much as I adore my children engrossed in happy cooking these are my favourite pictures from that morning:

What are known as "traffic light" peppers in our house - shiny, juicy, fresh and crisp

and ultimately

Cherry Tomatoes - just cut up, juicy, in the sunlight...

So those are my beautiful things for the week – what have you seen, written, photographed, experienced, baked, read or spotted that’s made you think ‘wow’?  Just a tiny bit of positivity, grooviness or otherwise to share with everyone else

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and please tell us you’ve done so on twitter using #yourebeautiful

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