Monday 31 August 2015


Skye Tanberry has been looking into the future again… will her predictions for your September be spot-on or totally off the mark? You decide!

VIRGO: Big changes are in store for Virgo readers this month… it's time to decide what you really want from the year ahead, and take control!

LIBRA: Something is coming to an end this month… a friendship, a hobby, a romance. If you're the one making the break, be kind but firm - better things lie ahead.

SCORPIO: You've been working your socks off lately, and reaping the rewards… but make time for fun and friendship too. Life works best when work and relaxation are balanced!

SAGITARRIUS: September heralds a time of hard work for you. Don't resent it… see it as a path to future success, and you'll be unstoppable!

CAPRICORN: You were born to dream big - and achieve those dreams - but something in your personal life is holding you back right now. Time for a re-think?

AQUARIUS: Worry has been plaguing you lately - let go of the fears and trust that things will be fine. Some money may be coming your way… spend it wisely!

PISCES: Romance is in the air… could this be the month to stop dreaming about your crush and starting smiling and chatting instead?

ARIES: There is one aspect of your personality you've been wanting to change or improve for a while; this is the time to do it. Make a plan and carry it out… happy new you!

TAURUS: Things has been a little rocky for you recently… but that's about to change. See what you can learn from all the ups and downs, and move on swiftly!

GEMINI: You're in a mischief making mood this month… be careful not to act without thinking and hurt the people who really care about you. Look before you leap!

CANCER: Ambition is driving you right now, and that's great… but make sure you keep hard work balanced with fun. Plan a timetable of what you want to achieve and things will run more smoothly!

LEO: If you've been struggling a little, fear not - friendship, social life, school work and family are looking good right now. Enjoy the positives!

Cathy says:
Will Skye's predictions come true for you? Or is it just a bit of fun? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 30 August 2015


Reader Georgia describes how her first teen crush turned everything upside-down…

Georgia says:
Growing up can be tough. It's a hard time of your life to navigate, but I had it under control - I was acing all my subjects and I actually had friends for the first time in my life. Then, suddenly, I found my adolescence-nemesis in the crush department. I had never seen why the One Direction boys were so attractive to my friends, or why I would ever want a boyfriend. Then Cait came along: borderline genius, good at cross-country, unbelievably pretty. I had never wanted to be friends with someone as much as I wanted to be friends with her.

You know the feeling - it's Friday afternoon, period six French and you're having an existential crisis. Everyone else has been conjugating verbs while you are now having a minor internal breakdown. For me, this was mainly attributed to the fact that I just realised I'd been staring at the girl next to me for forty minutes; imagining what it would be like to shuffle my chair over and bump shoulders with her, to inch my hand across the desk and hold hers, to do that head-tilty thing like they do on TV and kiss her right on the lips. Sitting dumbstruck in Year Nine French, I had just realised that I liked a girl; really liked her.

At this point in time I started feeling all the wrong things… like I was a freak, like I didn't belong, like there was something messed up about my head and heart. In our society, most girls like guys and most guys like girls, and this is what you see on TV, in films, in books. At fourteen years of age I barely knew it was possible for a girl to fancy another girl. It took me another year to tell my best friends that I wasn't straight; they were so understanding and barely bothered, because I hadn't changed as a person. At the moment I am still trying to decide which 'labels' fit me best as I have recently realised I like male humans as well as female. Shock! I am confident that one day I will settle down with a lovely boy or girl and eventually raise a family of delightful children in a society where this kind of stuff is perfectly normal and visible in everyday life.

I hope anyone reading this who does not identify as straight will know that you are not alone in your experiences; a few years ago I was just like you. My story is nowhere near done yet, but it's most certainly on track to a happy ending!

Cathy says:
I know this is a subject many of my readers are curious or worried about… thank you, Georgia, for sharing your experience with such sensitivity. Is being straight or gay a big deal to YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say.

Saturday 29 August 2015


Readers Amber and Saffron check out the best back-to-school stationery - take a look at their little haul before you hit the shops!

Saffron says:
Let's just say I kind of like new stationery! I start looking for new stuff the minute school has ended… I dive into every stationery shop I can find over the summer holidays. I always look for weird, quirky things rather than, say, a 28-pack of plain yellow pencils from Morrisons or whatever. This year, Waterstones was my main hunting ground, and I found some great stuff…

Amber says:
I love stationery because it fuels my creativity in the dull hum of schoolwork. Let's say I'm in maths, learning algebra and we have to write something important down… I'd much rather pull a bright, patterned notebook out of my bag than a boring, dull one. I buy more stationery over the summer holidays than at any other time of year because the shop displays inspire me and I can't help myself! I'm a hoarder of pencils and pens, but I LOVE notebooks. I have one for every occasion… to-do lists, christmas present lists and every subject in school! For cheap stationery, Tesco and Sainsburys are amazing, but my fave shop is Paperchase.

All of the stationery in this little haul is from Tesco, apart from the Tinkerbell notebook which came from Disneyland, the toadstool notebook which was a competition prize and the pink notebook which came from Sainsburys. I love the Sharpie pens especially because of the vast array of ways to use them - I plan to use them to make bookmarks, for starters! I love the Lego brick erasers too, because they are fun and a bit of a novelty!

Saffron says:
So… I found some very cool stuff! My oxygen rubber was 50p from Staples and the multi-colour ink pen was from there too, at just £1. The compass was also a Staples find, and that cost just 29p. The ruler cost 99p from Waterstones and the inside-out highlighter was £4.50 from the Disney Store. The dinosaur pen was 75p from Paperchase and the coloured pens in the spotted case were £1.50 from Waterstones. Last but not least, the box of bits and bobs - paperclips and pins and clips - was £2 from Asda. I absolutely love it, because it really helps me to get sorted and keep my cork board and everything else organised! I totally love stationery… if I used those pens to draw a heart as big as Asia, it still wouldn't sum up my enthusiasm!

Cathy says:
I share Saffron and Amber's affection for gorgeous new notebooks and pens… how cool? I love their round-up of the best stationery on offer this autumn. Do YOU love getting set up with new things at the start of the new term? COMMENT BELOW to tell us why!

Friday 28 August 2015


Two creative readers share their arty ideas for customising basic items to make a super-cool fashion statement! Ana and Ellen tell you how…

Ana says:
I had to get white canvas shoes to be in a production of GREASE this summer. It was great, because I've been wanting white shoes for ages, but my mum wouldn't let me get them - she said they'd get dirty too easily. Anyway, when GREASE was over I had the idea of drawing on them to brighten them up and personalise them! They took about two hours to do. I just used normal permanent markers - which just so happen to be on special offer in Tesco at the moment! Even the shoes weren't expensive, just £7 off ebay or amazon. Sadly the artwork is probably not waterproof, but you can't have everything!

Ellen says:
Mum asked me if I would label my PE kit for school - she suggested that I use the laundry pen to write my name on things. Somehow, I don't think this is exactly what she had in mind! The t-shirt was £7 for a pack of three… Mum likes a bargain and got them in a sale. They're all different - but this one was plain and needed a little something extra! So, Mum asked me to mark up the t-shirt… she is trying to get me to take more responsibility for things now I am eleven, but I'm not sure she'll be asking me again! I just started writing my name and then found myself doodling… I didn't plan it and I didn't think too much while I was doing it. It was a spur of the moment thing. I used to have a teacher who would tell us to 'take our pencils for a walk,' and let our imaginations control our pencil. I think that's what I was doing! When I finished I realised it looked a bit like a cover on a book I have. I love art… it means FUN to me… F for fantasy, U for unique and N for nonsense. I love playing with words…lettering is cool. I like using lines and sometimes I use symmetry too… you can do a lot with lettering! Go for it… buy a laundry marker pen and let your imagination loose. It deserves it!

Cathy says:
Wow… both Ana and Ellen have talent to spare… and a great sense of design! Awesome. Have YOU ever customised your own clothes or  made something unique to make a fashion statement? COMMENT BELOW to tell me more!

Thursday 27 August 2015


Reader Ruadhan writes about the magic of make believe…

Ruadhan says:
I have always had a special place in my heart for fairies… or, more accurately, fayes and faeries. I've been teased countless times, but I let it go - not even the harshest nickname can make me change. I am not a big fan of films that portray faeries - they're ridiculous compared to the real legends. I read about faeries all the time and have two folders stuffed with stories and poems. My wall is covered with drawings of faeries and a map pointing out where certain types might live. I know I will probably never see a faerie, but every night I open my window and look out at the stars, dreaming of faeries flying through the clouds, making the weather hot or cold. When I go for a walk in the forest or to the beach, I sing old songs, sometimes in Gaelic, hoping that I might catch a glimpse of a faerie behind a branch or perched on a rock. Well, you never know!

I suppose the interest started when I was about seven. I'd been given a Flower Fairies book of poems from my gran… I read it and began to think of other kinds of faeries too. What if there were millions of them out there? I started a project to find out as much as I could. I studied fairy beliefs from medieval times and Mum let me borrow her book on Celtic myths. I began to look into Irish legends. My favourite story was about a faerie who became so overcome with greed that she transformed into a sea dwelling dragon who made the sea impossibly hot with her breath and destroyed anyone who tried to steal her treasure. They're great stories, and I love the way they interlink with history and legend.

After more study, even I found a story about faeries who transformed into the souls of newborn babies. I quite like that idea. Perhaps that's why I believe - I have allowed the faerie inside me to believe! I think that every child starts out believing, but as they get older it is up to them whether they allow the faerie inside them to stay alive. When people tell me I am silly and childish and that faeries don't exist, I simply shrug and feel sorry for them, because they don't understand and perhaps they have let something beautiful die inside them. I don't care what anyone says, I won't stop dreaming!

Illustrations: from The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies by Cecily Mary Barker

Cathy says:
Like Ruadhan, I think there is a lot more to the fairy myths and legends than a few Disney films… the real magic is definitely still out there! Do YOU believe in anything that others laugh at? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Wednesday 26 August 2015


It's agony aunt time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Ana has a dilemma. Will Cherry Costello give her the right advice? You decide…

Ana says:
My best friend, 'R', is really scared about going back to school. Last term she was bullied quite badly by three girls from our year group and as the time is counting down (we go back next week) I can see her getting more and more wound up. I have told her that if nothing has changed she has to tell a teacher, but she won't listen because the bullies have told her not to tell and she thinks this would make it worse. I can't stand seeing her being tormented by these losers. Should I tell on the bullies, or would that be a betrayal?

Cherry says:
You haven't promised not to tell, from what I can see. You know she can't or won't tell herself, and you know that's because she's afraid of the bullies… but you could blow the whistle on this and stop things getting any worse. If the bullying starts again, talk to a trusted teacher, tell them what's going on and ask them not to say you told or to involve you in what happens next. The teacher will respect your wishes but can then investigate what's going on, talk to your friend and work out a solution. Bullies always tell their victims that telling will make things worse… they are protecting themselves. Telling can stop the bullying and protect future victims, so be brave and if your friend is still being tormented, speak out, in confidence, on her behalf. Good luck!

Cathy says:
Sometimes, friendship means speaking out or getting help for someone we care about. What would YOU do in Ana's situation? Has Cherry given the right advice? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Tuesday 25 August 2015


Readers share their hopes, fears and aspirations for the brand new school term!

Emily says:
I guess I'm feeling OK about going back to school. I'm going into Year 10, which means we start our proper GCSE courses, but that's fine. The only thing I AM worried about is that we have to have injections. Eek! I HATE them! But I guess I will deal with it somehow, even if it means crying! School is fine, I just don't like homework… but who does, right?

Ruadhan says:
I've been back since Thursday and the teachers are piling more and more work on us… exhausting! In in 4th year now and there is so much work to get through. We have work experience in a few weeks and exams at the start of next year… so much to think about. It will all be worth it some day!

Jenna says:
I'm looking forward to it because I haven't seen my crush for six whole weeks. Maybe this will be the term he actually notices me… or maybe I'll finally get the courage up to talk to him! (Unlikely, but I can dream!)

Becca says:
I feel anxious because I've just finished secondary school and everything is changing. College is the next challenge. I am kind of excited to be meeting new people, but anxious for everything else!

Fouzia says:
I don't feel good about it. We didn't get to go abroad this summer as planned, to see relatives back in my old country, so I am sad about that. Plus, I do not like my new school - I miss my old friends and I am dreading the new term. Things feel a little messed up right now but I am trying to see the bright side… hopefully something awesome is coming up!

Annie says:
I am looking forward to my new form tutor. Last year we had an amazing English teacher - and then before the end of term, our old form tutor told us he was going to be teaching Sixth Form so next term we'd have a new form tutor. And of all the teachers… it's going to be our amazing English teacher!

Stephanie-Jade says:
What I'm not looking forward to is repeating my year. I am studying A levels now and the first year didn't work out in my favour, I guess. My grades were a let down but I am grateful I have a second chance! Now I just have to figure out how to improve those grades!

Fiona says:
I am probably a bit of an oddity but I always look forward to the new term. Things are not great with my family and although we do care about each other, there is always a lot of stress whenever there is a school holiday and I hate being caught in the middle of it. When term time comes around I put on a happy face and pretend my life is fine. The truth is, it is fine when I'm with my friends, but at home it's a different story.

Jade says:
I am super-nervous because in September I will be starting at a boarding school for the first time. I think the work will be OK and I know I will make friends, but I am so anxious about missing home. I've always known this was on the cards and looked forward to it, but now it feels very serious and scary.

Louisa says:
Last year I got into some trouble at school and felt like I let everyone down. Over the holidays I have made a plan to change all that and start from scratch. I will make my parents and my teachers proud this year and I will do the best I can. It feels like a big responsibility but also it feels exciting. Clean slate!

Illustrations by your very own CC… ;o)

Cathy says:
This mixture of nerves and excitement is pretty standard… but I love the interesting and unusual stories woven into this post! New starts can be pretty awesome, right? Are YOU planning a fresh start this term? In what way? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday 24 August 2015


Reader Aine, like thousands of other readers, is preparing to start secondary school for the first time. What is she expecting… and how will she cope? Read on to find out!

Aine says:
When I left Year Six I was really upset - it felt like I'd grown up at that school and I was leaving all my teachers behind. It was exciting too, oddly, because there was this real feeling that new opportunities were opening up, and that I had my whole life ahead of me. I am quite nervous of getting lost at my new school… we've had taster days, but I know that I'll still get muddled that first week! I am very excited to make new friends. My old primary is a feeder school to the secondary, so plenty of people I know will be there, but I will meet lots of new people too I hope!

I love shopping, so choosing the uniform was fun. It's very smart, but my brother, who is already at the school, says it's very hot to wear in the summer. The school I am going to is very strict on appearance - knee length skirts, flat shoes and no make up. Having said that, I actually feel very grown up in my uniform! It helps in a way that my brother will be around, but he says I'm not allowed to hang around with some people… and he's very OTT with the way I dress and talk, and how I act, in case I embarrass him. I can't wait to annoy him and his friends, lol!

I am especially looking forward to art, drama, PE, maths and science lessons… though I don't think I'll be as keen on PE once the winter sets in! When the weather is good I will be able to walk to school (with THE BROTHER!) but in winter we will have to catch a bus, because it gets dark much earlier then. Mum and Dad have said they'll be getting a drone to follow me there and back, but I think they're joking!

One thing I have promised my parents is not to get lost in the new craze of social media where everyone is posting pictures online with pouts and duck-face and all that. Some people seem more interested in that than in real life and learning, so I don't want to fall into that trap. We had homework over the school holidays to describe ourselves, and I made a picture… the blob of bright colours represents me - messy, mixes well, colourful, all over the place, random, warm and stands out! There is lots of symbolism in the picture, everything means something! I made the picture by experimenting with a pack of wax crayons and a hairdryer!

So… I'm starting school very soon, and I know lots of other kids around the country are in the same boat. Good luck to all - my parents say these are the best years of your life, so let's make them memorable and do our very best!

Cathy says:
Aww… this is an awesome account of the run-up to starting a new school! Good luck to you too, Aine… I am sure it will be awesome! Were YOU nervous about starting secondary? COMMENT BELOW to tell us why!

Sunday 23 August 2015


Author Eve Ainsworth writes about how looking at bullying from both sides has helped to inspire her new book 7 DAYS…

Eve says:
'It's just banter, Miss!'

I wasn't getting very far with the student I was talking to. Incidents had occurred at school and on social media that she had either incited or been a part of, but she wasn't willing to talk. Another student, vulnerable and isolated, was being targeted and getting increasingly distressed.

'It's just banter,' she repeated, daring me to challenge her. I tried. I talked of the damage bullying can cause and the fact that banter was not the same as ongoing verbal assaults. She stared back at me, bored. She saw her target as weak and pathetic for not fighting back. Our meetings ended badly, usually with sanctions being put in place that I knew would have no impact on her behaviour.

But one day, something changed. She talked about other stuff, things that mattered to her. She lived with a mum who was ill and struggling to pay the bills, she worried that her mum would collapse because she was existing on a pot noodle a day. My student broke down in tears and admitted she had started shoplifting so she could sell make-up and bring some money home. She was exhausted, worried, stressed. Lashing out at someone else had been her way of coping, of gaining some control back. She could see it was wrong, but somehow she'd become blinded. Bullying had made her feel strong and powerful again. After a long talk, she began to see this was a false and damaging belief. The bullying stopped, and a year later this girl had become a peer mentor, helping other pupils who were feeling overwhelmed.

The truth is, teenagers have never been under greater pressure. Not only do they have exam and school pressures, many have other demands, such as being young carers, dealing with stressful home conditions or struggling with low body confidence and self-esteem. There are so many stresses socially - if you set one foot wrong, say one word out of line, it will be posted on the internet for the world to jeer at. Many teens shy away from being the person they really want to be, for fear of ridicule or abuse. Some cope and some do not - that's the stark reality.

There are no clear-cut answers. Bullies don't bully because they are nasty, unfeeling humans, just as their targets are not pathetic, soft-centred cowards. We still need to break down the stigma that this word carries and address openly why someone would chose to target another. Perhaps worse are the onlookers, those who stand by as incidents escalate, and do nothing. Just as you would turn off a TV programme that disgusted you, you need to be able to walk away and report a situation that is causing harm.

I wrote the book 7 Days because I wanted to show the idea that there isn't just one victim in bullying. I felt compelled to explore both voices - the bully and the target, to explore their respective pressures and understand both sides of the story.

Cathy says: 
Eve Ainsworth's book 7 DAYS is available now in all good bookshops and online suppliers. I've read it and it is a very thought-provoking and powerful book. Do YOU agree that the bully can be just as much a victim when it comes to bullying? COMMENT BELOW to have your say.

Friday 21 August 2015


Reader Katie shares a story of friendship, fun and loyalty… and it all started on the internet!

Katie says:
I know everyone says their best friend is special, but mine is a little different - we met on the internet! We came across each other on Instagram through our shared love of the TV programme Doctor Who. I'd made an account and was fairly new to Instagram, and Laura was one of my first followers. Our friendship grew through simple comments on photos and gradually we started talking more and more. I've always been careful about talking to strangers online, but when I first 'met' Laura I thought, give this girl a chance. I knew how to be safe, and both of us were too smart to give away any details about our real lives. We didn't need to anyway, as we were just chatting about our favourite TV show! After six months or so we were talking on Skype and decided to face-call each other. With our parents' permission, we did so - and it was amazing to talk face to face after texting for so long.

It turned out that Laura's school was pretty near to where I lived, and we began to joke about meeting each other one day. I don't think either of us believed it would happen, but we slowly realised that there was actually nothing to stop us from meeting up. So, after a lot of deliberations, our parents talked and decided they would let us meet. All my friends thought it was amazing that I had such a good friendship with someone I first met online, and now that we have met twice in real life I can safely call her my best friend in the whole world. I've been to her house now, and we have met a few times now and even been on a camping trip!
Laura says:
I remember getting a message on Instagram from Katie asking if we could perhaps be internet besties. I very nearly said no because of internet safety, but I didn't thankfully! The first time we met I was very nervous. I remember waking up really early and not being able to sleep, but it all went well and we have met several times now and it has just been amazing. We've got matching 'best friend' necklaces and I haven't taken mine off since I got it! I haven't had a friend who has always been there for me before… love you so much Katie! And who could have guessed it would all start off over the internet?

Cathy says:
It's great to read a happy, positive story of a friendship that started over the internet! Do YOU have an interesting or unusual best friends story? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!


Did you have a doll you loved to pieces when you were little? Or one you bought as an adult? Read these stories of much-loved toys of yesteryear...

Cathy says:
This rag doll is made from felt and has embroidered features and yarn hair. She is dressed in the traditional costume of the nomadic Sami people, the Laplanders, who follow the reindeer herds across the north of Scandinavia and parts of Russia. I have a thing for reindeer, and I could not resist this vintage doll when I spotted her in a junk shop a few years ago… she's a 'rescue' doll, not one from my childhood, but she is very special to me. She stands on a shelf in my writing room amongst my collection of vintage children's books, but I like to think she has known different times and different places. Perhaps once, long ago, she was the much-loved toy of a Sami child in Lapland? I'll never know for sure; she is keeping her secrets close.

Maureen says:
This is Conchita… she's a beautiful black doll from my childhood, and she squeaks! I loved Conchita, and when I moved out to settle in Australia as an adult she had to come with me.  Here she is in a crocheted dress I made for her when I was about eight, sitting beside the laptop I use for my writing. After all these years together, I parted company with her in early 2015. I gave her as a birthday gift to a little African girl who was living at a local Women's Shelter (a safe place for women and children whose husbands/ partners are violent or abusive.) I had a feeling Conchita would make a difference to that little girl's life… I hope my hunch was right!

Margaret says:
This is my Holly Hobbie doll... she's about thirty-six years old now! I got her when I was about five and she came with her own house... it was a one-up/one-down which came with a carry handle and when you opened the front of the house, the wall became a garden. Very hi-tech back then! I no longer have the house as my mother had a tendency to pass my toys on to cousins, despite my pleading. I must have hidden the doll, though, because she escaped and has survived! She has her original dress and there are traces of a rubber band in her hair... her little white shoes and bonnet are missing, though. My own kids have never shown an interest in her, but my youngest foster child, who's seven, took her to school for a project on parents' old toys. The doll was the oldest one there and made me feel a bit teary-eyed!

Cathy says:
These stories are so lovely! Have YOU ever had a doll that meant the world to you? COMMENT BELOW and tell us more!

Thursday 20 August 2015


It's agony aunt time on DREAMCATCHER again… and reader Lily has a heartfelt question for Summer Tanberry…

Lily says:
I have been doing ballet since I was about six. I have always taken it seriously and worked very hard at it and I have big dreams. Recently some classes from my dance school got the chance to work with students and teachers from the Scottish Ballet. I literally couldn't sleep the night before, I was so excited, and I loved every minute of the workshop. Then I found out that three girls from my class have been invited to audition for special classes in Glasgow, but I was not picked. I felt crushed. I tried to speak to my teacher about it but she said, very kindly, that not everyone is cut out to be a professional dancer but that I should keep going because ballet was 'much more than that'. I know she was only telling me the truth, but it feels like she has destroyed my whole world. I haven't been back to class since as I feel so embarrassed and ashamed. I thought I had a chance, and all the time everyone must have been laughing at me.

Summer says:
Nobody was laughing at you, I promise. It's true that not everyone can be a professional dancer, but everyone can fall in love with ballet and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Ballet casts a kind of spell over us sometimes, doesn't it? The thing is, ballet is a very tough career. There is no room for those who don't make the grade, and even brilliant dancers can be turned away because of tiny details like body shape, bone structure, alignment. For those who do make it, the path gets tougher still. The pressure is huge, and still the chances of success are slim. I have to live with the regret that I could not take the pressure; my illness stole any chances I may have had of a career onstage, and that's something I will always live with. Rejection hurts, but I promise you, you are much more than a wonderful dancer… you are a determined person, a dreamer, a girl with ambition. Like me, you may have to adjust your ambitions and shape your dreams a little differently, but you can still build a wonderful and magical future. Don't take this to heart… when one door closes, another opens. It's time to find that door.

Cathy says:
Do you agree with Summer's advice? What would YOU add to it? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday 18 August 2015


It's almost the end of the summer holidays. Bored? Here are twenty awesome ideas to make your day extra amazing!

1. Start learning a new language… or a musical instrument!
2. Make a list of your hopes and dreams...
3. … then make a plan for how you can make them happen!
4. Play your favourite music - and dance!
5. Bake cookies for a friend or family member…
6. Wash up/ hoover/ tidy your room… your family will be impressed!
7. Visit an elderly relative and have a catch up over tea and cake!
8. Write a letter (by hand!) for a friend you never see anymore…
9. Go for a swim!
10. Curl up with a book and a smoothie in the back garden…
11. Make a vlog review of your fave CC book - and send it to Cathy!
12. Grab a camera and take pics of your best pals!
13. Take a bicycle ride to the countryside or through the park…
14. Learn a poem by heart - or write one!
15. Write a letter to the Prime Minister about an issue that you care strongly about…
16. Sort out your wardrobe and bring a bag of cast-offs to the charity shop…
17. Tell your family that you love them!
18. Smile at someone who looks sad…
19. Go a whole evening without internet!
20. Watch the stars at night!

Cathy says:
Which of these will YOU try? COMMENT BELOW with your favourite feelgood things to do!


Readers discuss the pros and cons of books versus e-readers… which would YOU choose?

Emily says:
For me, it would have to be books. I like having a physical copy of what I'm reading. I like the feel of the pages, the whole experience…

Ruth says:
I love the smell of a new book, but Kindles are good for saving weight when you're packing to go on holiday…

Hazel says:
I agree. I prefer books most of the time, but when travelling, downloading books onto a phone or tablet is much easier and lighter too. I always have a couple downloaded and ready in case I'm ever out and have to wait for something. Real books do smell nicer and are probably better for your eyes! You can be completely submerged in the plot, too, whereas a phone is constantly pinging to let you know someone liked your picture on Facebook! With real books you become part of the story, you feel it…

Kym says:
I love both! My Kindle for discovering new indie authors and for when I'm too impatient tp get to a bookshop or order a book. Or if they have the book I want on a 99p special offer! With some authors, I own both. I'm on holiday next week, and I'll be packing my Kindle!

Marija says:
Books are the real thing, though. Screens cannot beat that feeling of having a book in your hands, and the sweet scent of the pages… if feels much more comfortable, more personal. When a story touches you, you can touch it back by holding a physical copy of a book you love!

Sasha says:
Yes, books for me too. There is just a feeling you get from holding a paper-created book in your hands, slipping through the pages to gain the story, as well as that new-book smell, of course. Kindles are handy, but nothing beats a book.

Davina says:
Both. Kindles fit perfectly in my bag without the heaviness and space usage of a thick book. But on a relaxing evening, nothing beats being curled up in the lounge with a book; turning the pages adds to the romance and the suspense!

Andrea says:
Books. I have tried liking my Kindle but it just isn't the same… you don't get the feel, the smell or the look a book can give you. You can't shop for a Kindle book in the same way as you do a real book… I love to browse the shelves and see what takes my fancy. There's something about being in a bookshop and seeing a whole row of the same book… I think it's a nostalgic memory of going to the headmistresses office and choosing a new reading book! I have a Kindle somewhere but I seldom use it and it always runs out of charge!

Chloe says:
Well, I like both. Kindles are brilliant for travel and they save space - you don't have to store books in your room. I'm on my Kindle now!

Gemma says:
I do love my Kindle, but nothing can replace books! I love the smell of them, too, and I like to see my collections grow bigger and bigger on my bookshelf!

Kate says:
Books… you don't need wifi to read them and if they somehow get run over by a tank (a Blue Peter experiment by the way!) you can still read them! I rest my case!

Cathy says:
Well, it's books for me too… but I am happy for people to read any which way they want to… as long as they're reading! What do YOU prefer? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 16 August 2015


Readers share their feelings about going back to school… are you down in the dumps or fizzing with excitement? 

Camille says:
Going back to school is a big thing for me this year - actually, it's a big thing for me every year. I never feel comfortable going to school… I get bullied a lot. Sometimes it's unintentional, but it happens anyway. And on top of that, there are important exams this year and I am panicking. I've had to speak to our pastoral care teacher a lot, and she told my mum that stress and anxiety are common during exam season. But I feel anxious most of the time. I'll be very anxious getting ready for that first day back, I know. Am I ready? Is my uniform too clean? Should I try to look more rebellious? I'm worrying now, but I know I have to go. Each year, I take a deep breath and walk through the doors as if nothing is wrong, and this year will be no different.

Amber says:
I'm actually looking forward to it! We get to learn Spanish, I get to improve my English, and I get to do it all along with my friends. I think that after one year at secondary school, things start to fall into place, and you feel more at home there. You have good friends, you know your teachers and their expectations. Being in a top set is challenging at first and quite scary, but also logical and fun. And although the holidays have been fun, with me and my family visiting Disneyland Paris, I am definitely looking forward to school. I have already bought some supplies!

Zarin says:
I'm not feeling happy or nervous… I just feel really sad about going back to school. It's because I will no longer be with my best friends in the world, the people who know me from the inside out, who make me laugh when I feel like bursting into tears. I will miss them so much.

Lorna says:
I'm nervous as it's my last year before university and I really need to do well!

Saffron says:
I'm super excited because me and my friends all love to go stationery shopping at this tsage in the summer. We go to Paperchase, Smiggle and Staples... and I get my Harry Potter themed bags and pencil cases off eBay.

Kiramae says:
I'm happy and excited because the new term will be a new start for me and my friends. Last year we had a bit of a shaky time, but we all reckon this year will be the best ever. It's our last year at this school, so it has to be brilliant!

Cathy says:
I think I always felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness on the first day of term… those were the days! Are YOU looking forward to starting school again? COMMENT BELOW to tell me why - or why not!

Saturday 15 August 2015


Cathy writes about her love affair with skinny, crazy dogs… for anyone who doesn't know, a 'lurcher' is a type of mongrel, a whippet or greyhound type crossed with a terrier, collie, deerhound or other dog… and yes, they are all slightly crazy!

Cathy says:
I've loved lurchers since forever. As a child, we had a whippet and then a mad, rescued afghan hound, and after I grew up and left home my dad collected a small tribe of rescued lurchers. One, Sally, he found lying by the side of the A45 after she'd been thrown deliberately from a moving vehicle. Mad, skinny dogs were in my blood.

Long before I had dogs of my own, I used to draw long-limbed hairy lurchers galumphing through the countryside. I was married by then, and my husband was a postman. Owning a dog was not high on his wish-list, but I convinced him that lurchers were different. We began stalking dog rescue groups in search of the perfect dog, and fifteen years ago we found her. An email arrived with a photo of a sorrowful, grey, spiky-haired puppy with huge feet and a wolfish look. We trekked north to meet her and she jumped up at me and made my lip bleed. 'She's a bit neurotic,' the SSPCA girl said. 'She has already been rehomed twice and brought back again…'

She was 12 weeks old and had been 'born in captivity', her mother found roaming the streets of Glasgow. I was in love. She came home with us. 'She's on probation,' my husband said, but he named her Kelpie and tickled her ears when he thought I wasn't looking. The kids loved her, and the cats and rabbits treated her with disdain and taught her to know her place. Kelpie was clearly part kangaroo, part toilet brush. We lived in rural SW Scotland then, and she raced joyfully across the moors and beaches. She was unruly, over-enthusiastic, a nervous wreck… she was my soul mate.

When I wrote my first book DIZZY, I put her into the story as unruly lurcher Leggit. She starred in lots of publicity shots, looking windswept and gorgeous. I wanted more lurchers, but my husband said one was enough so I lurked on the Facebook pages of assorted lurcher rescues to admire the pictures. That's how we found Finn. He was a collie-whippet cross on Death Row in Belfast, and one of the rescues had arranged for him to be transported to Scotland to be fostered. Could anyone help with part of the transport run? The pleas for help became more urgent, and I agreed to meet the ferry and take the dog to his foster. Could I keep him overnight, the reply came. Or possibly for a week, while they found a foster home?

We were told to meet the van in a Tesco's car park at 7pm, and we waited anxiously as if preparing to receive stolen goods. The van arrived, driven by a kindly whippet breeder taking her own pedigree dog to Crufts Dog Show. She opened the door to reveal a doe-eyed, supermodel whippet. 'He's BEAUTIFUL!' I gasped. 'Not THAT one,' the woman sighed, and led a scrawny, cowering, flea-ridden creature on a piece of string out of the van. I'd mistaken the Crufts candidate for the rescue dog. Finn was a nightmare to begin with. He was so thin he squeezed out of the catflap and stood howling outside because he couldn't get back in. He chewed everything in his path. Our lovely vet lent us a crate to give him some security and he was neutered, de-fleaed and given his jabs. He barked all night, every night, for a week.

I had to work away from home for a day, leaving my husband in charge. When I came home, his face was grim. 'That dog is a MENACE,' he said. 'D'you want him for your birthday?' In one short day Finn had declared his alleigance. We became failed fosterers and Finn became my husband's dog, trailing him everywhere. He chilled out, calmed down and the crate went back to the vet, never to return. We love our lurchers. They are beautiful, elegant, fast, mad as hatters. Seriously… you should get one!

Do YOU have a much loved pet? COMMENT BELOW to tell us all about it!

Friday 14 August 2015


Reader Daisy's amazing poem written from the viewpoint of a cyberbully is both powerful and thought-provoking… read on and see!


You can't hide from the story that is your life.
Every day is a new page;
Every day that page is ripped up.
Then every day, I regret ripping up that page.

My life is a mess, it always has been.
My family are broken, and so am I.
I need a way to fix the pieces, so I take it out on someone else.

My life has been ruined, so why not ruin someone else's?
It's not as if they know who I am, so nobody will find out.
I just type what I hear at home, so surely it's not that bad?

Words are my prison, they trap me every day.
The words I use, the words I hear, I just can't get away.
They trap me wherever I go.

I use these words to scare others.
I know it isn't right.
But sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, right?

OK, I know I'm doing wrong.
But wrong is the story of my life.
One day I'll find another way to let out my anger.
But for now…
I must press send.

Fabulous artwork by reader Marina… many thanks!

Cathy says:
I love this… Daisy's poem gives a really heartbreaking insight into the mind of a cyberbully. Have YOU ever been targeted by an online bully? What advice would you give on beating the trolls? COMMENT BELOW to have your say, or to comment on the poem!

Thursday 13 August 2015


Reader Holly shares her feelings on leaving school and moving on college… and offers advice to anyone leaving one school to start something new!

Holly says:
Leaving the high school where you've spent the last five years of your life can seem really daunting, but it's also a chance for a fresh beginning and an exciting new stage of your life. It may mean saying goodbye to friends who are going to different colleges but it's also a great opportunity to make new friends… and of course, you can stay in touch with old friends via social media and texting.

For me, moving on will be a big adventure as I'll be studying lots of new subjects. College offers so many new things to try - there's everything from Geology to Theatre Studies to get to grips with, plus a whole range of language options! The general idea is to study four subjects in your first year; if you want, you can then drop one and study three in second year. However, if you are up for a challenge you can take on five subjects!

Another thing I will have to adjust to is the size of the campus… colleges are huge in size and at first I know it will seem infinite, but I'm sure that before long I will get used to it. I will settle in quickly, just as I did at secondary and even primary school. My favourite thing about starting college is that after twelve years of wearing school uniform I can go to college in my own clothes. I'll feel much more comfortable and it will feel like being treated as a young adult rather than a teenager. It will also give me more scope to express myself through what I wear, and allow me to become more creative!

So if you have left primary school, secondary school or college this summer, see it as a positive thing that will change your life for the better. It's a brand new chapter of your life! Good luck!

Cathy says:
Leaving school to move on is always just a little scary - but usually we are ready for the challenge! Have YOU just left primary… or secondary? Do YOU remember how it felt? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Wednesday 12 August 2015


Today's problem page dilemma sees reader Codie asking Skye Tanberry for advice on a holiday romance… will you agree with Skye's advice?

Codie says:
At the start of August we went on holiday to Spain for a week. We stayed in a big hotel that had a teen club and I made lots of new friends, including a Scottish boy called Alex. He was really nice and we had lots in common, and he was good looking too. I fell for him pretty much right away. We only got together at the very end of the holiday, because I think both of us were quite shy. There was a beach party and we got talking and we took a walk along the beach and held hands and he said that he would miss me. We had a sort-of kiss, which turned into a hug, and that was it. I am gutted now because I didn't have the courage to ask him for his address or email and I don't know how to find him. I would do anything to see him again or be in contact. I've tried looking on Facebook and Instagram and I can't find him. I don't think I will ever get over this, I feel so upset.

Skye says:
You won't want to hear this, but a holiday romance is not the real world. On holiday, different rules apply and people get together who may not be suited in real life. I think this is what happened to me and Finch. It felt like magic, the way we met, and we had one wonderful summer together, but when I saw him in London afterwards I knew I just didn't fit into his life. We were too different. With you and Alex, there was definitely an attraction, but you were just getting to know each other so it was far too soon to say whether you had the basis for a real life relationship. You both had the chance to exchange addresses and mobile numbers etc, but you didn't… perhaps through shyness, perhaps because you both knew that trying to start a long distance relationship would be too difficult. Instead of letting regret and sadness ruin your summer, remember that special night and know that he will remember it too. Don't expect anything more… this romance was not meant to last, but in time you will find the right boy for you and there will be no shyness, no doubts. Good luck.

Cathy says:
Wise words from Skye… but do YOU agree? Have you any advice to add? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday 10 August 2015


More successful adults share the messages they'd like to pass on to their teenage selves…

Don't worry about being a little different in regards to where you passions and attentions lie. The fact that you sit on the doorstep reading instead of lingering in the park with the other kids is not a terrible thing. People will see value in it one day. They'll remember that instead of worrying about having a brand-name lipgloss, you stood in the corridor holding a typewriter produced novel you'd spent weeks pouring your heart into. Even though you don't have the 'popular' haircut, others will remember you had the longest blonde hair in the year (and the longest fringe, thanks to Mum!) Although you're anxious, frantically re-doing your grease-slicked foundation in the Prefects' toilets, you'll eventually take a deep breath and stop caring about the fact you've inherited your father's chin. Your style will settle, though it will stay quirky and they'll find you a curious and intriguing creature as a result. The little things you worry about don't matter in the end. Keep reading those books and sketching by candlelight. And try not to kiss Daniel C on the way home from school… he's a joker and a fool and entirely not worth it.
Karla, author, artist and model

Think about yourself first and foremost - you are beautiful inside and out! Put yourself and your future at the top of the list and ignore those who do not care for you. Be happy - life is short, so dream every day and make your dreams come true!
Valerie, librarian

It's not your fault and you are not alone. Please tell someone… anyone… as what is happening is wrong. You are beautiful and worth just as much as the next person. You are not thick or stupid. You have dyslexia… it's fine. Start believing in yourself. You are stronger and smarter than you give yourself credit for.
Sarah, campaigner, performer, writer

Communicate with your parents as much as you do with your friends - and leave the mobile in your pocket! Share your thoughts with the person next to you, and listen too… they have things to say as well.
Richard, musician & US military

You really will meet someone, and he'll be amazing. PS: practice the piano, and consider learning the guitar!
Sheila, broadcaster, journalist, poet

Yes, you are. And no, it isn't wrong.
Danni, anti-austerity activist

Cathy says:
These messages have got me thinking about what I might say to my thirteen year old self. What would YOU say? Or what do you wish someone older and wiser would tell you right now? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!


Chelsea is one of many readers who started reading my books when she was young and just never grew out of them. She talks about how much they mean to her…

Chelsea says:
I first discovered Cathy Cassidy when I was nine - my auntie bought me a copy of INDIGO BLUE . I still have it somewhere, battered and well-thumbed, some of the pages loose. It was given to me at a time when my own life was hectic. My parents were breaking up, my older half brother and sister lived with us and there were seven of us (including our staffie/boxer cross Rio) living in one tiny two bedroomed house. For me, books had always been an escape from all of this, but INDIGO BLUE was different - I could relate to it. I finished it in two hours and was desperate to read more.

Indie was living a hard life too. Her stepdad was removed from her life, like my dad, and like me she was strangely relieved. Her mum didn't have a lot of money coming in, she lived in a poky little house too and her best friend was being mean, just as mine were as I began to miss more school and couldn't go on school trips. I begged my grandfather to buy me DIZZY when I was ten. I'd progressed from authors like Jacqueline Wilson onto the classics, but when I saw DIZZY I knew I had to read it. I finished the book in three hours - I was sucked into the story. I myself had been to festivals since I was young; I knew people like Storm and Tess, had danced to strange music round a campfire. I was officially hooked.

As I grew up, I always managed to get my hands on the new books, always at an appropriate time. SCARLETT was given to me by an English teacher at a time when my dad had gotten a new girlfriend, a woman I despised. Much as I admired Scarlett for coming to love her stepmother, I never did manage it. I bought SUNDAE GIRL at a time when my great grandfather was battling dementia; I cried when Jude had to bury her grandmother - a few weeks before crying at my grandpa's funeral. DRIFTWOOD, LUCKY STAR… they all meant so much because I could relate. I understood how these characters felt, how they behaved. And of course, I was ecstatic when the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series came out - a chance to follow this family, get to know the sisters. I adore Honey, even though she can be cruel… she's complex, with many layers, and Cathy wrote that so well.

I adore every single book, especially LOOKING GLASS GIRL, the latest in my collection, but INDIGO BLUE will always hold a special place in my heart for being there for me at a time when nobody else understood. I've been reading Cathy Cassidy books for eleven years now, and I'll be reading them for another eleven. No matter how old I am I will never stop relating, and that shows how mega fab Cathy is as an author.

Cathy says:
This post means the world to me… it makes all the hard work worthwhile. Thank you, Chelsea, for being such an awesome reader! Have YOU read any of the stand-alone CC books? Which ones? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 9 August 2015


Summer is supposed to be a happy time… but what happens if your heart is breaking? Reader Louise shares her story…

Louise says:
Warning: this is a sad story. It's also a true story, and it almost broke me, because last summer I was just thirteen years old and I just wasn't strong enough to handle what happened. I'm still not strong, but I am surviving, and that's a start.

Last summer started off perfect. It was hot, and we live near to the beach so there were plenty of chances to hang out by the sea with my friends. My brother (I am not going to write his name, it's still painful) was loving it. He had a girlfriend and lots of friends, and they'd all just finished their A levels exams and most of them were heading to uni in the autumn. My brother had a place at a London uni to study chemistry.

One night, in the middle of the night the doorbell rang. I thought it was my brother, coming home late, forgetting his key, but it was the police who had come to tell us he would never be coming home again. He and his friends had been drinking (he never drank, as far as we knew) and they started diving from a small rocky cliff where they were hanging out into the sea. It was something my brother had done  before, but always in the daylight, and sober… and even then it was risky. That was part of the fun, apparently. Well, this time he didn't make it. He misjudged the dive and hit his head and by the time his  friends found him, it was too late.

Our lives fell apart. It became the worst summer ever, the summer I went to my brother's funeral instead of waving him off to uni. I couldn't talk about it and cut myself off from friends and family. In the end, I got some bereavement counselling and started to grieve. I will never get over it. My brother was so young and clever and full of life; I learned that life can be very cruel. His death changed my parents too. They are so sad. Sometimes all I want to do is talk to my brother, and it may seem weird but the beach is where I feel closest to him. Sometimes, I think I can hear him calling me, just beyond the waves.

Picture posed by model Clara: many thanks.

Cathy says:
Louise has been through a very, very difficult experience. I think she is very brave for sharing her feelings when things are clearly still quite raw; I hope she comes to terms with her loss in time. Have YOU ever lost someone close to you? COMMENT BELOW to share your story or to send a hug to Louise.

Friday 7 August 2015


Readers tell us a little about their trademark styles…

Meg says: 
I'm thirteen and I would describe my style as quite retro but versatile too. I like to be unique in the way that I dress, and my style has been evolving since I was very young. I have always been interested in fashion and O enjoy sketching my own designs in my spare time. I am not an overly confident person, but when it comes to the way I dress I do like to stand out from the crowd. I like to shop in vintage boutiques and one of my favourite style finds was a vintage blouse that I bought recently. I am inspired by clothes from the 50s and also the 90s, but I like to mix and match different styles and make them my own. Sometimes people do react to the way I dress, but I guess the reaction depends on the person! In the picture, my outfit is mainly black, but I have brightened it up with a pink and black zebra print cardigan and my Vonda Dr Martens which I have jazzed up by adding red and white ribbons. I am also wearing a black lace choker. My style dreams are to have my own fashion boutique one day where I can share my designs with others.

Emily says:
My style is influenced mainly by the 1960s. I love long, floaty beads and white Mary Quant type dresses… but bright 1960s prints are cool too! It goes beyond the clothes, too… I have posters of John Lennon, The Doors and Andy Warhol images and my fave bands are Pink Floyd, The Doors and the Beatles. I go to all kinds of shops to add to my collection. One favourite is a shop called The People Tree, but sometimes I find things I like in well-known, mainstream shops like Monsoon or M&Co. My influences come mainly from people like John Lennon and Pink Floyd who were style icons of the time. I am happy to go out and about in my brightest, strangest outfits and I ignore any strange looks. If you wear anything unusual that's not part of the current fashion, carry on being brave and love your own style. I am not saying that the latest fashions aren't very good - they can look amazing, but it's just that not everybody suits the same on-trend look. We all have clothes that suit us, and styles that we love. You just have to find yours!

Saffron says:
Well I don't know if this is quirky or interesting enough, but I don't really fit in with the regular style at my school. There are the populars… and then there's me, the girl with droopy dark hair, badges covering every inch of her blazer and a weird backpack. I was in town today, wearing a majestic unicorn tee and bright pink jeans with Harry Potter and Pokemon patches and badges all over; I also had my plushy dragon backpack. I saw some of the girls from school and they were laughing at my shoes (today they were pink and green Converse). I asked what the problem was and they didn't answer, so I then said, 'Oh puuurlease don't make a big thing of this, it will get worse next school year, I have MORE badges…' I then proudly strode away after tripping gracefully over my shoelace. Ah well!

Cathy says:
I love these accounts… from girls who follow their own style and do it proudly! Do you like their fashion choices? Do YOU stand out from the crowd? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more or to volunteer for a future feature!


Reader Emily, aged ten, explains how a Cathy Cassidy book inspired her to raise money for a refugee charity... Emily says: The Cathy Cassidy...