Saturday 26 October 2019


Reader Anael has six simple steps to hosting a perfect Halloween party... read on and wow your friends!

Anael says:
Hosting a party doesn't have to be stressful or scary - it's all in the planning, promise!

Set a date and venue, and check that with family (or teachers, if you're using a classroom at school) that this is OK with them. Next buy those party invites - the shops have a great selection at this time of year - or design your own, if you're the arty type! Hand out invites the week before the party so your guests can plan their costumes!

Even an ordinary living room or classroom can be transformed if you decorate it well. Again, the shops are filled with Halloween themed decos at this time of year, and supermarkets are a great place to gather some budget items. Drape fake spider webs, fairy lights, fake spiders and plastic skeletons from the walls and carve a Halloween pumpkin to set in the window!

Make a shopping list - get organised! Stock up on paper plates and cups, cutlery, balloons and perhaps a spooky plastic tablecloth... plus basics like fruit juice, pop, sweets, cakes, popcorn etc. Plan some show-stopper specials like a scary Halloween cake and a spooky blood-red punch - check online or in recipe books for inspiration! Plain shop bought cupcakes can be transformed by icing spiders onto them using shop-bought black icing... easy!

Make a playlist with all your favourite tracks, plus a few scary ones thrown in for fun! Check out Monster Mash, Ringo Starr; Once Upon A Dream, Lana Del Rey; Thriller, Michael Jackson; Black Magic, Little Mix; Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr.

Make your own - or visit your local party shop for inspiration! Witches, corpse brides, black cats, zombies, ghosts and vampires are all popular - or mix it up! Last year I was a witch-vampire-corpse-bride! Check out the CC book MARSHMALLOW SKYE for how to make a ghost girl costume, or CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS for top Halloween facepaint advice!

It's only Halloween once a year... so enjoy it!

(Photos courtesy of Pexels)

Cathy says:
I love this... it's ages since I've done a Halloween party, but maybe this will be the year! Are YOU going to be celebrating this Halloween? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday 9 October 2019


Readers spill the beans on the CC characters they have most in common with... 

Emily says:
I am truly, in every sense of the word, a CC superfan: I have read all the books, have most of them, and (no joke) Skye is totes my twin. When I first read MARSHMALLOW SKYE, both my head and my heart thought they couldn't ever want to be like anyone else, myself included, ever again. I always had empathy for Jodie - I'm a bit of a Summer-basher sometimes, and I think this is because I am almost jealous. Sure, Skye is awesome - I knew she was my favourite sister - but still, I was envious of Summer. She is perfect, whereas I - um - am not. MARSHMALLOW SKYE is my rock, but I love HOPES & DREAMS too, and I am probably more like Jodie than any other character. I would love to see a series all about Rochelle Academy!

Cerys says:
I have lost of favourite characters in CC books, but the character I am most like is Bex from LOVE FROM LEXIE. Bex is just like me... she dyes her hair turquoise and then red, I have had mine purple and silver. Bex loves Doc Marten boots, and I have three pairs, in bright colours and patterns. Bex is hot tempered and fiery and I am also, and yet like Bex I work hard at school and do well in my exams. Bex is in a foster family, and I am not, and she has a pierced nose, and I don't, but we do have lots of things in common. I loved reading about such a strong character and one I was very like. Bex is great and I can't wait for her installment in the LOST & FOUND series (if she has one!)

Louise says:
My CC character twin is probably Jude from SUNDAE GIRL. She is very quiet and worries about what people think of her, but underneath this she is a strong character who is quietly coping with lots of difficult stuff. Well, I don't have a mum who drinks too much or a dad who is an Elvis impersonator but I do live with my grandparents, for different reasons. There are some challenges in my life and I try to be positive about it all but like Jude I find it hard to let people get too close. I also go to a Catholic school and it was nice to see that detail in this story because you don't usually. All that's missing is that I need a secret admirer like Carter... but that's just a matter of time, right?

Millie says:
The CC character I am most like is - this will sound odd - Shay Fletcher from CHERRY CRUSH and the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series. OK, he's a boy, but otherwise the similarities are there. Shay is a bit misunderstood and doesn't always get on with his dad, and my dad is strict and moody. Shay is very musical and plays guitar and writes songs, and I play piano and guitar and write poetry, and one day I hope I will write actual songs. Also Shay annoys everyone by finishing with his girlfriend to go out with someone else, and something like this happened to me but with friends. I have been told LOVE FROM LEXIE is about a girl who joins a band and writes songs, so I am getting that book next!

Cathy says:
I love this... so cool! Do YOU have a CC character twin? Who are YOU most like, and why? Tell us all in a COMMENT BELOW!

Friday 4 October 2019


Skye Tanberry here, with your horoscope for October... see if my predictions ring true for you!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Balance in your life is definitely a good thing... but don’t feel scared if you find yourself in a little bit of chaos... the drama will pass!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Helping people is definitely a good thing, as long as you don’t try to control other people’s lives... try to support your friends and listen to their worries, but don't be tempted to interfere too much. They have to make their own choices in life!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
You're lucky enough to have some great supportive friends around you, but try not to take advantage of the people who offer you help. It’s important to give as well as take... try it and see those friendships deepen.

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
If things are going well, don’t second guess them, because you will end up creating problems where none exist. Life has some awesome moments up ahead for you - open your eyes and make sure you don't miss them!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
The new school year has lost it's novelty and an edge of stress may be creeping in about some aspects of your work. Ask for help if you need it, and keep tje big picture in mind - take every day as it comes and make time for fun as well as study!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
If you are feeling cornered or unappreciated by your friends, step back a little and don't give them such a big role in your life. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first and focus on your own happiness.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
If you feel an old friend is drifting, make the effort to reach out and keep the bond strong. Yes, you both have busy lives, but a few texts, messages, calls or meet ups can keep things fresh and fun. Don't be scared to make the first move!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
If someone has gone out of their way to make you happy, let them know how much you appreciate them. Sometimes, a little thanks, can go a long way! A secret admirer has their sights set on you... but are they the person you're dreaming of?

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
It’s good to let go sometimes! Don’t feel scared to put yourself first every now and then and share the work load - asking for help is a sign of strength, y'know! Build in plenty of downtime and fun days with friends to balance the stress!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
It’s good to be ambitious, but remember to keep in mind how your actions make other people feel... and take time to make your friends feel valued and loved, too! If you're feeling low as autumn kicks in, make an effort to up your exercise and leisure time. It'll put a smile on your face!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
Don’t forget about spending time with your friends and family, even if you have a lot on your plate. Try not to jump to conclusions or assume the worst of others... a hasty judgement is rarely a fair one, and may cause real hurt to others.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
If things don’t go according to plan, relax and go with the flow! You may have a set idea of how things should be, but sometimes a little change can work out even better. Adapt and keep moving forward... you may get to your goal even faster!

Cathy says:
Do October's predictions chime for you? Do YOU follow your horoscope avidly, or just see it as a bit of fun? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 29 September 2019


Check out this fab review of LOOKING GLASS GIRL by reader Francesca...

Francesca says:
I have recently just finished reading LOOKING GLASS GIRL and I wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading this book. I thought that the way it was written was very clever - it didn't get confusing when referring to different times, places and characters. I also thought that the way this book had been put into modern times was very creative and I'm sure it must have taken a lot of hard work to think about the book and the story within.

At the end of each chapter I wanted to know the truth and find out more about the characters and the story - every night I would pick up this book and couldn't put it down! All the characters in the story are well described and have their own personality. I could picture them in my head as if they were real people, jumping out of the book and stepping into reality. The characters didn't know what it was like to live in a world where secrets, lies and the truth hide.

My favourite character in the story was Savvy - at the start of the book, she was unkind, bossy and wouldn't take no for an answer, but towards the end she became kinder.  Eventually she ended up becoming best friends with Alice -  I liked her more by the end of the story.

This year, I am starting secondary school and can't wait to meet new people and make friends. This book has taught me that some people hide things under a mask that not many can see through and see the truth. I have learned (from this book) that people are not always what or who they appear to be on the surface. I think Alice was too scared to tell her Mum about the bullying and it's a shame it took something so serious to put things right and leave the past behind. I think it's important to be kind to everybody - like Alice was to Lainey at the end of the story, when she noticed she was all alone.

Thank you Cathy, for writing LOOKING GLASS GIRL, because it taught me a lot of things. This modern version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in wonderland is different in a good way!

Cathy says:
Thank you Francesca for this lovely review! Any readers who love a thriller-style story with an Alice in Wonderland twist will enjoy LOOKING GLASS GIRL - have YOU read it yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday 24 August 2019


Reader Nikki writes about her first cruise holiday... if you're not going anywhere this summer, curl up and read more... and start dreaming!

Nikki says:
I went on my first cruise just as I was starting High School. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was incredible! All I’d heard about cruises was that they were for “old people” but that statement couldn’t have been more wrong - cruises are definitely for all age groups! I went with my mum, little brother and my grandparents and we each loved it for our own reasons. My little brother loved the cruise because he got to hang around in the kids club. It sounded pretty lame to me, but I spent a few days with them playing games and exploring the ship, and it was actually fun! My Mum loved the cruise because we went around the Canary Islands and it was super warm, so she got to relax by the pool and sunbathe all holiday. She doesn’t get a lot of time off work, so just being able to lie around and do nothing was the perfect holiday for her. My Nanna and Grandad had been on millions of cruises! My Grandad used to lecture on airplane crashes and since then, he has refused to fly, so a cruise was the perfect way for them to get around on a holiday.

I have many reasons why I love cruises… I feel like there’s a magic in the air. I love how everyone around you seems so calm and relaxed - we are all on holiday, after all! I love how cruises are like multiple holidays all in one, because you get to visit so many destinations in one trip. But my favourite thing is how much there is to do on a cruise. There are different activities and classes that you can do and constant entertainment and a show every night. You could never be bored!

I also love how fancy a cruise can be! There are formal nights that you can take part in and wear really fancy dresses and dine in a fancy restaurant. Or if you prefer, then you can eat at one of the many other food places on board ship and stay in your comfy clothes. The destinations are always incredible. When you dock in a port, there is always a beach nearby. On one of the stops, we took ourselves snorkelling at a nearby beach. I have never seen so many fish in my entire life! The water was so crystal clear that you could see everything - it was like swimming in an aquarium!

I guess cruises may not be for everyone - they would be pretty daunting if you were scared of water, or got sea sick. But they are so safe that sometimes you forget about being in the middle of the ocean. My Grandad often gets sea sick and sometimes they have to give him a needle in his bum to get rid of it! However he says that it’s definitely worth it for such an amazing trip. You’ll never know how much you love it until you try it, but for me, cruises are the perfect way to spend my summer holidays…

Cathy says:
Ooh... Nikki makes it sound so tempting! I have never been on a cruise - have YOU? COMMENT BELOW to tell us what you think!

Saturday 17 August 2019


Fourteen year old Justin from Northern Ireland gives us the inside story on dreams, determination and starting out as a young musician...

Justin says:
I didn’t take many guitar lessons but I learnt to play through music groups like the Rock School at Ossia Music in Belfast, and I also used the internet. I have a bad memory about what the first song I ever learnt on guitar was but I'm pretty sure it was 'Know Your Enemy' by Green Day. I've pretty much always known that I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. I grew up with Hannah Montana and Big Time Rush and was obsessed with the idea since then, but as time went on, I got more into theatre and art until social media was introduced to me and I discovered a bunch of underrated artists who I wanted to be like.

I love pretty much any genre of music (except for country. Yikes) but I adore punk music along with pop punk and indie music the best.  My favourite artists though would have to be Cavetown and The 1975, although neither of them are punk or pop punk. I really connect with their words. I've been listening to Cavetown for about 4-5 years and once I figured out he started writing when he was extremely young, I was very inspired and began writing. The 1975 are just beautiful; they don't only motivate me to write but they also encourage me to think, read, and to live my life to the fullest. I love both of them and they inspire me every day.

A lot of things encourage me to make music, like for example, listening to music and thinking "wow wouldn't it be cool if I wrote a song and people could hear it through their headphones" but to be completely honest, what encourages me the most is my family and going to concerts. Every time I go to a concert I just let out all my raw emotions, I scream, I cry, I laugh, and (not to be too self-obsessed, but) I want people to do that when they see me live. My family just inspires me everyday and I want to make them proud of me. The best thing about being a young artist is just being able to express yourself. I can write about mac n cheese and call it the best thing ever and nobody will mind because I'm a child, and getting compliments like "You're so young! how do you do it?" is always nice.

The worst thing though would have to be the pressure I put on myself. I still want to do well in my education and I still want to have a social life so I attempt to make any free time I have about music. I feel like I'm running out of time and I know I'm young and I shouldn't worry but I can't help thinking about all of the talented kids in the media that started before me. I'm also deeply afraid of kids making fun of me but I'm working on slowly putting myself out there more so it'll seem more natural to me.

What keeps me going on is the fact that I could actually live my dream life. I know that's a one in a million chance but I dream of performing on a stage where people want to see me, I dream of looking back on all the people that put me down and showing them I did it. I dream of having my own music on vinyl. I dream of being interviewed. Just little things and little dreams like that keep me going.

You can see Justin perform here... support new talent and pop over to give his song a like!
You can also follow Justin on Instagram here: @justinmcmillxn

Cathy says:
Wow... as the mum of two young muso's myself, I can tell that Justin is the real deal - amazing talent and confidence! I'll be following his career with interest and rooting for him all the way! Do YOU have a dream career you'd give anything to follow? Or do you want to leave a word of encouragement for Justin? Just COMMENT BELOW!

Monday 12 August 2019


Another in our occasional series about children's classics and their creators... we look at the life of Anna Sewell, author of BLACK BEAUTY...

Anna Sewell was yet another literary lady who despite all that was against her, overcame the odds and managed to write a timeless classic. Overcoming injury, poverty and the hardships of being a woman author in a man’s world, Anna Sewell, author of BLACK BEAUTY, also became an influential voice on animal cruelty.

Born in Great Yarmouth in 1820, Anna Sewell spent most of her early life in London. Her mother, Mary Wright Sewell, was also a successful children’s author, but despite the popularity of her books, the family still couldn’t quite afford to send Anna and her little brother Phillip to school and educated them at home.

At the age of fourteen, Anna finally had a chance to attend school in Stoke Newington. However, on the way home from school one day, she slipped and severely injured her ankles. Due to the family's precarious financial situation, treatment for Anna’s injury was poor and she never fully recovered. For the rest of her life, she could not stand for very long without a crutch. She started using horse drawn carriages for greater mobility, which contributed to her love for horses and concern for their welfare. Anna also owed quite a lot of her inspiration to her mother, Mary, whose own books and beliefs looked at social issues such as the abolition of slavery and alcoholism. Anna would often help to edit her mother’s books, and so she gained invaluable experience of how to be a successful author.

BLACK BEAUTY was Anna's only book, an emotional and hard-hitting story that showed the hardships and cruelties horses faced in Victorian society - it was clearly a labour of love. Written towards the end of her life, when she was an invalid and mostly bedridden, the payment upon publication was a flat rate of £40. The book is still one of the top ten bestselling children's books of all time. Although now considered a children’s classic, her original intended audience were those who cared and worked with horses. She wanted to inspire kindness, sympathy and understanding for them.

An American review of the book said: “We require use of this animal more than of any other, and either from want of though or ignorance we forget that the horse is a very fine and delicate animal, sensitive as man to pain and hardships and almost human in its sense of hearing and understanding…A horse lacks words with which to express its feelings..”

BLACK BEAUTY was published when Anna was fifty-seven years old, in 1877, though sadly she would not live long enough to see its great success - five months after its publication, Anna Sewell died of tuberculosis.

Cathy says:
Have YOU read BLACK BEAUTY or seen the film? It's very sad... it definitely made me cry as a child! Which children's classic do YOU love best? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday 10 August 2019


How two girls at the turn of the last century took some amateur photographs that shook the experts... and made the UK believe in fairies. Was it real? Read on to find out more…

In 1917, down in the leafy Cottingley Glen near Shipley, West Yorkshire, sixteen year old Elsie and her cousin Frances, nine, claimed to have first seen fairies. Unsurprisingly, nobody believed the girls and in a bid to prove that the fairies were real, they begged Elsie's father to borrow his camera to take pictures so the family could see for themselves.

It was Elsie's father himself who developed the photographs - he was obviously astonished when the picture showed Frances, surrounded by a ring of dancing fairies! Once over the shock, helooked for a rational explanation and put the illusion down to cardboard cutouts that the girls had drawn.

It wasn't until 1919 that the photographs came to a wider audience. An expert commented on the photograph of Frances: "This plate is a single exposure. These dancing figures are not made of paper nor any fabric; they are not painted on a photographic background - but what gets me most is that all these figures have moved during the exposure."

Every little girl claims to have seen a fairy - but these girls had proof! The photographs were shown to the famous writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle was a member of the spiritualist movement and happened to be writing an article on fairy lore; he was fascinated by the pictures and wanted to include them in his feature. This is what brought them to the public eye. His article received much criticism but it also sparked a debate that would never really be solved until 1981, when Elsie and Frances, now old ladies,  admitted that the photographs had been faked. In spite of this, they still staunchly claimed to have seen fairies by the beck and argued that the fakes had been made to make people believe.

Why they took so long to admit the images were faked - or indeed the possibility that they were lying in that interview - are questions which are still being asked today. We will leave it to you to decide  - are fairies real?

Cathy says:
I've always loved the story of the girls who saw fairies in Cottingley... and my kids, in turn, loved the film version of the story, Fairytale, when they were growing up. At the time, the photographs convinced the UK... do YOU think there was anything to their story? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday 7 August 2019


Skye Tanberry is back with your horoscope for August... let's hope it's a sizzlin' one!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
If someone has upset you, remember that you are a strong person and can rise above the situation. Try to see the bigger picture and let go of the hurt and anger... it's time to move on.  You'll feel lighter and more energised as a result... don't let hurt or anger bring you down.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Don’t stress about exam results and upcoming tests. Whatever the outcome, you can and will make it work for you! Now is a good time to think about future dreams and turn them into plans - if you work hard and find your passion, everything else will follow!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Filling your holiday with adventure and fun is your priority, and quite rightly. School/ college seems like a whole world away, but don’t forget to stay on top of work and reading as well as all the fun stuff, so you can hit the ground running when you go back!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Trying different things can sometimes be fun! Why not challenge yourself and see if you can go vegetarian for a week? Or go plastic-free? Or walk 10k steps each day? Just thinking about which challenge to pick can help you find out more about yourself!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
If something is going wrong in your life, try to find the silver linings and concentrate on the positives, rather than the negatives. There is always a solution... and once you stop panicking, you'll find it, promise!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
The efforts you have been making recently have not gone unnoticed - keep it up and that passion will drive you through life. Meanwhile, take a moment to feel proud at how hard you're trying... your determination is pretty awesome!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
It’s okay if you haven’t figured out what you want to be yet. Some people don’t find their true passion for a long time... and some of us will find there are many paths/ careers that could make us happy! You have all the time in the world - which means you can enjoy every moment this summer!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Why not try a new activity this summer? Grab a friend and try your hand at tennis, squash, diving or cycling? It could even be as simple as perfecting your cake baking talents! Learning new skills can be loads of fun and the stars will help make sure you learn a lot, too!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
If you always find yourself reading the same type of book, why not branch out and try something new? A new genre could surprise you and you may find something you love! Head for the library with an open mind and see what you can discover!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Spending time with your friends and family is important, but if you've been feeling a little swamped lately, make sure to spend some quality time alone too. Quiet time can help top up your energy and keeps you in touch with your own feelings!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Make sure to get out and enjoy the sun this summer! If you're not the sunbathing kind, gather some friends and head off for a picnic, a bike ride, a trip to a museum or gallery or a day trip to your nearest big city. Being a tourist in your own town can be cool!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
It's easy to take those we love most for granted at times, but the last thing you want is for them to feel neglected. Let friends and family know that you appreciate them - it could be the tiniest gesture, but it will make their day!

Cathy says:
Ooh... some interesting predicitions here... do they ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday 31 July 2019


Reader Nikki tells us about her first experience of a music festival... complete with waterlogged tent! And yes, she's a convert!

Nikki says:
I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to my first music festival, so I chose to start with one of the smaller ones. I went to Eden Festival in Scotland and after being told how dinky it was meant to be, I was blown away by the size of the place! I definitely think that I would have been overwhelmed at one of the larger festivals to start with, but this was a perfect size to start off with. There were thirteen different music venues on the site, almost all of the food stalls offered vegan and gluten free options and there were posters promoting recycling all over the place! It was amazing! Everyone was so friendly and inclusive, so we were all surrounded by the nicest atmosphere! Much to my delight, there was a whole array of circus equipment for people to try out - I had a great time, but I have learnt that the unicycle is definitely not for me!

After exploring all there was to see, including 2 humongous stages and many different food and crafts stalls, we headed back to pitch our tent. I had never camped before and found that pitching a tent was surprisingly easy! We shared some of the food that we had brought and headed back out to listen to some music.

We started our music journey at a stage called Rabbie’s Tavern. It was one of the smaller stages, but I don’t think there was a single moment of the festival were it wasn’t jam packed! The music was wonderful, it was calm and folky and everyone listening to it seemed really relaxed and happy. We loved it so much that we ended up staying there all night and didn’t manage to see any of the other stages! We’d had a long drive and decided after a lovely evening, we wanted to get an early night, so we headed back to our tent.

It was meant to be raining all weekend, but we managed to bring the beautiful sun with us, until we tucked ourselves in for bed and it started to pour. After about half an hour or so, we noticed that our pillows were a bit wet. After turning on a torch for closer inspection, we realised that our tent was not waterproof at all and there were puddles forming around the edges. Our pillows weren’t just a little wet, they were soaked! We grabbed all of our bedding and clothes and ran to the car, which was parked a few fields away. We tried our best to make a comfy bed in the car, but it was horrible! Just thinking about sleeping in that car makes my back ache!

In the morning, once we had eaten some breakfast, we forgot about all of that and headed down to the main stage to listen to some more music. We ended up falling asleep for half an hour or so before lunch and when we awoke we felt refreshed and ready for the day!

After lunch we went to the second largest stage to watch a man called Mr Motivator. He appeared on ITV back in the 90’s to motivate people into doing more exercise. Around a thousand people were gathered around this stage squatting and lunging while this sixty seven year old man put us all to shame with his athleticism and enthusiasm. People in banana costumes were weaving in and out of the crowd handing out bananas, and if I looked to my left, I could see a man dressed as a bear. If I looked to my right, I could see women dressed as fairies, handing out leaflets to try and prevent climate change. Dancing along to Mr Motivator was one of the greatest and weirdest moments of my entire life!

As we had no tent to sleep in, we decided to finish our day back at the small stage and head home early. I would definitely recommend a festival to anyone who is a fan of music and camping! I will always remember my time at Eden Festival and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Cathy says:
Wow... this sounds brilliant! Have YOU ever been to a music festival? What did you think? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 28 July 2019


Reader Katy blogs on why adventure is good for us... and why we all need to be be a little bit braver!

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live
Henry David Thoreau

Daydreaming is one of the healthiest forms of escapism but what use is it if all you ever do is dream? I know a lot of you are budding writers so pay heed to Mr. Thoreau’s words… often the best stories come from experience.

Why do we need adventure? 
Humans love routine. It’s comforting, reassuring, safe... but is it really living? While all this is an entirely natural, human trait, so is the need for adventure. The balance between the two is where we find the secret to happiness. We are storytellers, collectors of memory. In the modern world, it is so easy to travel to far and distant lands, we have it so easy compared to our predecessors. Take a ferry to Amsterdam? Grab a £30 flight to Madrid? I mean, it’s rude NOT to. Not only does it feed into our own happiness, stories of adventure inspire others to reach outside their comfort zone. It is contagious!

How to find it?
Now… there are three ingredients when it comes to cooking up an adventure. Excitement. Risk. Experience. Getting out of your comfort zone, exploring and pushing your limits. We will never remember the time we caught the bus for the 176th time into town unless, say, we strike up a conversation with a stranger. Something as simple as that can turn into a wonderful adventure. Maybe you are meeting a new best friend!

A lot of it is down to overcoming fear. For a lot of us, the thought of talking to a complete stranger is quite terrifying… but why? They’re usually just going about their lives, just like you are. Not scary at all. I made a very dear friend last year, whilst travelling in Budapest. I was just in the supermarket buying fruit when a girl, roughly the same age, approached me and asked if I knew where the nearest post box was. Incidentally, I truly didn't. But we got chatting; she was visiting too. We arranged to meet for a coffee and that was it! The rest of my time in Budapest was spent hanging out in her flat, exploring the Buda hills, exchanging music… and we still talk now. I plan to visit her in her student flat in Amsterdam soon. What I'm saying is, some of the best experiences have come from pushing through this fear of talking to people, just saying yes.

I can only ever speak for myself, but I believe we humans are never meant to stay in one place for too long. There is so much world to see, so many things to experience. But if travelling isn’t your thing, adventure can be found anywhere... on the bus, in a supermarket, at school. Literally anywhere. What are you waiting for?

Cathy says:
I am all for adventure... it's just around the corner, after all, if you know where to look! What was YOUR last big adventure? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Saturday 27 July 2019


There is a growing trend of using natural herbs, oils and fruits  to make DIY face masks, conditioners and beauty potions... the way we did hundreds of years ago. They're a little bit of nature magic! Reader Clare shares a few simple tips...

Women all over the world have used coconut oil for centuries as their go-to beauty companion! It can be used for anything from an intensive hair mask to skin moisturiser to a dental hygiene hack. Coconut oil is available in all big supermarkets now - don't be confused if it appears to be a solid rather than an oil, that's normal!

Here's a simple coconut oil face mask so you can see for yourself!
1 tbsp. pure coconut oil
3 tbsp. oatmeal
Warm water
How to apply:
Put oatmeal in a bowl and pour in enough warm water to make a paste-like consistency (you can just guesstimate for this part.) Combine the coconut oil in with the oatmeal and mix well. Apply the mixture to your face, and exfoliate your skin by gently rubbing in a circular motion. Leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat dry your face with a clean towel. Et voila!

Not just a tasty, healthy snack, avocados can also be used to nourish the skin and hair. Why not try this recipe for a hair 'mask' to give a gorgeous shine?
To make:
Grab an avocado, a banana, and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Mash them all together in a bowl, then take that paste and rub into hair from root to tip. Wrap hair in an old towel or shower cap. Do something else for half an hour, and then get in the shower to shampoo and rinse.  Glossy hair that's naturally healthy!

It's not just good on toast! Honey can be used on your skin and hair and has anti-bacterial properties as well as having moisturising powers, if you want a smoother and more even skin-tone. Try brushing a small dab of honey onto your skin. Massage gently and leave for twenty minutes. Spots may appear less aggressive and skin may feel smoother and more even!! Another tip - if you get hay fever, eat locally made honey - it can reduce symptoms of hay fever for some lucky people!

Note: If skin feels hot, sore or prickly at any point, wash the treatment off IMMEDIATELY... not all natural treatments are suited to sensitive skin!

Gorgeous artwork by the talented Millie Aked - thank you so much Millie! 

Wow! Thank you Clare! These are cool... definitely going to try them out! LOVE the artwork too... brilliant, Millie! Do YOU have any old traditions or natural beauty tips? COMMENT BELOW!

Tuesday 23 July 2019


If you've been enjoying the library updates of young school librarians 'The Terrible Trio plus One' you will be sad to know that the trio have now left their posts as student middle school librarians to start High School. We wish them well - and welcome three new student librarians on board to blog for DREAMCATCHER!

Daisy, Amy & Ashleigh say:
We are the new librarians who are going to be letting you know all the things that go on in our brilliant middle school library... our names are Daisy, Amy and Ashleigh. We are looking forward to taking over from the Terrible Trio now that they've moved on to High School and keeping you updated on library life behind the scenes!

As it was the end of the term, and some of the librarians are moving on to high school, we celebrated in the library with a doughnut challenge... it was a lot of fun, as you can see! (And what do you mean, the librarian bribes us to help out with cake? No way!!! Cake and libraries go together perfectly, no?)

The challenge reminded us of some doughnut books we have in the library:

The Jam Doughnut That Ruined My Life by Mark Lowery, and The Donut Diaries of Dermot Milligan by Anthony McGowan, illustrated by David Tazzyman. Both are very funny in a luagh out loud way, and ideal for a light summery read - or for little brothers and sisters of course! What are YOUR favourite funny books? COMMENT BELOW to let us know, and we'll see if we have them in the library!

Summer is the perfect time for reading, and over the holidays we are planning to read Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell, Fortune Cookie by Cathy Cassidy and George’s Marvellous Medicine by the one and only Roald Dahl. Do YOU have a summer holiday reading list?

The Terrible Trio are sad to be leaving, but they are moving on to new challenges, and meanwhile WE are looking forward to coming back in September and letting you know all that we get up to! See you then!

Cathy says:
Welcome to DREAMCATCHER, Daisy, Amy & Ashleigh - we look forward to hearing much more about life as a student librarian soon! I love the idea of a summer reading list... do YOU have one? And don't forget to COMMENT BELOW to share your fave funny reads, too!

Sunday 21 July 2019


Reader Anoushka from India shares a timely and though-provoking short story about hopes, dreams and the pressure to get perfect exam results...

'If you can dream it, you can do it...'

Shruti sighed and wished that these words were true. Sadly, it felt like they only applied to actors and glamorous fitness enthusiasts. They had no idea that these words hardly seemed to apply to ordinary students like her. She'd had enough of the media telling people that you can just dream and that it inevitably becomes reality. Shruti knew that in the fast-paced world of academics, it was hard to be recognised if you weren’t a topper. And all she really wanted was the recognition that she thought she deserved.

Shruti was an average student. Though she worked hard, she failed to match up to her classmates’ many capabilities.  She knew that school work wasn’t everything - she spent her free time playing the guitar, her passion - but it was hard to believe this when her parents and teachers stressed the importance of academic work and exams so much. They made it seem like excelling in school was the be all and end all of life - and that the only jobs worth having were a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer. Sometimes she felt like she was being left behind by everyone around her, as their sole focus was study and the constant need to excel and be at the top.

Shruti didn’t strive for excellence like a lot of her classmates did. She didn’t care if she got into Harvard or Yale, all she wanted was a sense of being contented and fulfilled instead of the constant need to achieve perfection. She felt that everyone should follow what their heart tells them to instead of doing what your parents always dreamed of becoming but were unable to follow through. She was sick of parents influencing their children’s career choices instead of letting them be what they aspired to be.

Could it be different for Shruti? Did she care enough about music to make it her career? A little voice inside told her that she did.

A decade on, Shruti was now an accomplished guitarist and a well respected speaker on mental health. Her parents had not supported their daughter at first, but soon understood their daughter’s lifelong dream. And right now, Shruti was standing in front of a crowd of hopeful teenagers. She stepped forward and concluded, 'So what if you don’t crack every exam, so what if you don’t earn as much as your sister does? Nothing can get in your way if you’re truly content with the way your life turns out. We all deserve a chance to be happy in our lives!' Shruti realised she was truly happy with her life, and now she was passing that message on - it couldn’t have been better.
Cathy says:
I love the message in Anoushka's story... it's one we all need to hear! After all, we are all so much more than exam passes and academic achievements, right? What do YOU think? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday 13 July 2019


Another in our fab series of dream careers... we talk to Carol, whose passion for swimming led to a career teaching others!

Carol says: 
I have always enjoyed swimming from a young age. My parents actually met at swimming lessons, when they were younger, so you could say swimming runs in the family! I always felt more at home in the water than on land. I was on the water polo team, I did synchronised swimming, I would take part in every swimming gala - I was never out of the pool, really!

I definitely fell into teaching swimming - I used to help my father, who was a swim instructor, from quite an early age. After many years of helping out, I finally decided to do my Swimming Teachers Qualification and actually start getting paid to do the thing that I love! I currently teach all sorts of swimming classes, from aqua-fitness, to tiny little babies, to an over fifties swimming group where our oldest member is eighty nine! I love it!

I find teaching so rewarding. People are so proud of themselves when they achieve something that they previously could not do, and I know that my instruction has helped them to get there. Plus, swimming is a very important skill to learn! My favourite anecdote is about Jenny, an eighty year old lady whose children told her that she was too old to swim. Five years down the line, Jenny can not only swim brilliantly but can do all four strokes - and she even managed to get her story in the local paper!

Teaching swimming may not be the best paid job in the world, but I feel like the luckiest girl in the world as I managed to turn my hobby and passion into my job! I now feel happy  every day of my life, because if you enjoy going to work every day, then you will at least enjoy the majority of your week!

Cathy says:
Brilliant... swimming is such an important skill to learn, and I love that Carol has turned her passion into a career! Do YOU dream of turning a hobby into a career? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Wednesday 10 July 2019


Ever wondered what a dog's view of life might be? Rescue dog Malteaser hijacks the DREAMCATCHER blog to let us know!

Malteaser says:
Hi - I am a brown spotted Dalmation and I am six years old. (I've hurt my paw at the moment, but don't worry, I'm on the mend!) I live next to a beautiful pine woods which I get to run around in every day, and we are not far from a beautiful beach too! My favourite things are cuddles, walks and food... but life wasn't always this way, alas. The story began a few years back at my Mum's local chip shop. She went in for some fish and chips one day and came out with me! She saw me in the garden, alone and sad - she told the lady behind the counter that she thought I was cute, and to her surprise she was told just to take me! I was separated from my birth mother at six weeks old, which is much too young, and pretty much left to fend for myself. The chip shop owner had been given me by a relative and he had a vague plan of selling me on for a profit, but he was too busy to look after me and I was left outside and fed scraps from the chip shop... not a great start in life for any dog, I think you'll agree.

My life changed that day, and amazingly, when I was taken to the vets, I didn't have any health problems. I was taken to my new home and I have never looked back since! It only took two days for me to learn that I had to go the toilet outside and the same time for me to learn how to sit and lie down. I'm a very smart dog, but then again I had a lot of help from my new big brother, Max. When I moved in to my new home, I was greeted by a big brown Doberman - but his size didn't scare me one bit! I marched straight into the house and started eating from his food bowl! We do everything together now and he really looks out for me when we go on walks. And since living here, I have made loads and loads of new friends. I'm so happy now that I've been rescued - I can give all my love to the people who love me back!

Cathy says:
Awww... rescue dogs really are the best in the world, we have two of our own! So many dogs in rescue are desperate for a home that it seems crazy to pay out for a pedigree... if you're looking for a pet, consider adopting one in need! Does YOUR pet have a cool story to tell? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Tuesday 2 July 2019


Skye Tanberry brings you some sizzling horoscope predictions for July... take a peek!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Meeting new people can be very daunting at first, but a stranger today is just a friend for tomorrow! Don’t be scared to speak to new people, you may be surprised at how much you have in common!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
Everyone would agree that if you make plans, you should stick to them. But if something suddenly comes up for someone and they have to change their plans, try not to be too quick to anger... flexibility is key to everyone’s life!

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Even the most capable person in the world needs a little assistance at some point - don’t be afraid to ask those around you for help! Even if you can do it by yourself, working with others may be more informative and a lot more fun!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Summer is here, so don’t forget to spend some time in the sunshine! It’s important to get out in the fresh air when you can. Go out and top up your Vitamin D levels with some gentle exercise... and rope in a few friends to join you!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Keeping secrets is unhealthy to any relationship, whether it is a friendship, family, or your significant other. Being open and honest around those you love is one of the most important traits that you can have, so try not to forget that.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
It’s important to take other people’s views into account, even if they seem a little wacky to you. Friends and family don’t need to have the same opinion, as long as they respect the different opinions of those around them!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
It is often good to show restraint, whether it is eating one piece of chocolate rather than two, or whether you turn down something that you really want to do, so that you can get a head start on your homework… but remember that it is okay to let go now and then and unwind a little, too!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Showing emotion can feel quite a risk sometimes - it can be very difficult to put your heart on the line. But it’s good to show the people around you just how you are feeling. You may find that in the long run, you will be a lot happier for it!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
If you have a gut feeling that someone around you is having a tough time, then show them how joyful life can be! It’s important to let people know that you are there for them when they need you... after all, wouldn't you be glad of a helping hand if it were you?

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
Never lose your enthusiasm, for it is a catalyst in other people’s drive! You inspire those around you to work harder and become more involved, by how hard you work and how much effort you put in to all that you do!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
You may have heard that curiosity killed the cat - but satisfaction brought it back! Never stop being inquisitive and pursuing new ideas. You never know where your next project will take you!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
This is your month to shine! You may feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut recently, doing the same thing day in, day out.  But change is just around the corner! If you feel like you have a boring routine then don’t worry, because soon it’s all going to change for the better.

Cathy says:
Ooh... some very cool predictions here! Do they ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday 29 June 2019


Another in our fab series about cool careers... we talk to Jessica, who has worked as a journalist for numerous top mags and newspapers. Wow!!!

Jessica says: 
From a young age I was infatuated with magazines. Growing up, all I wanted to become was a magazine editor with my own office full of books, plants and a rail of snazzy trench coats. If I’m honest, I thought being a magazine editor would be like the chick flick movies - Thirteen Going on Thirty maybe, or How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days, about magazine editors, ha! I’d spend all my pocket money on mags and loved reading the genuinely inspiring articles for women. I was always writing stories and my heart was with certain women’s issues I cared fiercely about. During my teen years, I saw so much in women’s magazines that broke my heart. Whether it was airbrushing photos or the pressure for us to look and behave a certain way, it felt like we were being pushed to be some kind of elusive dream super woman. There were a lot of problematic themes in the heart of women’s magazines, but I felt compelled to write articles for women. Pieces that gave women freedom instead of chains, that gave us hope instead of judgment and gave us laughs instead of us thinking we need to go on a diet. There is a power in words and with my passion for women and my interest in magazines, it made sense for me to put the two together and hope that I could make some positive changes in women’s magazines.

I started off doing a LOT of interning. I first started doing work experience at 14-years-old for Sugar magazine ( a teen mag that sadly is no more) in London. I studied journalism at uni and bounced around internship from internship in the city like a headless chicken at magazines like Cosmopolitan, Elle and OK! I learnt on the job and from a lot of really incredibly talented, funny, intelligent and dynamic women around me, who inspired me but also terrified me. From the get go, I would attend an event every night for work, whether it was a beauty product launch, a red carpet premiere, a celebrity birthday party, an awards ceremony, reviewing new restaurants/hotels or just a general showbiz party. It sounds glamorous and it was exciting for the first couple of months when I was starting out... but it’s definitely a lot of hard work. Interviewing celebrities and going to champagne fuelled parties may sound like the dream, but don’t be fooled. For a few years, I was interviewing up to six people a day. Talking to lots of different people can be interesting but exhausting.

As a journalist and an editor, I have worked on news, showbiz, culture, travel, fashion, beauty, politics and entertainment desks at national newspapers and global magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar, BBC News, OK! magazine, Stylist magazine, Elle magazine, The Independent, The Washington Post, Grazia, VICE, Refinery29, The Telegraph, Cosmopolitan and The Guardian. When I was writing about showbiz and celebrities, I landed exclusive interviews with George Clooney, Matt LeBlanc, Kate Winslet, Kim Cattrall and Will Smith. I was also the first to break the royal engagement world news of Harry and Meghan months before the palace announced it - a source leaked it to me and I spent most of the week leading up to press day worried sick that the Queen would sue me, ha! I have also put together extensive features and news articles that have been a part of UK campaigns and political movements. Now, I’m a freelance writer, so my job includes pitching a lot to editors, writing for different papers and magazines and reporting on current affairs.

In the future, I plan on continuing freelancing for different publications and writing in particular about social injustices and women’s issues, but I have started doing one on one freelance sessions which I’m really excited about. They are for people who may have always wanted to become a journalist and are keen to get published in their favourite magazines and newspapers, or for people who want to make the leap from blogging on social media to writing for global publications or those who simply just love writing and want to get their ideas out there. I’m passionate about getting people on the freelance journalist ladder. There are so many options and different roads to take that it can seem a bit overwhelming, so the ethos of my sessions is to really strip it back and simplify it. A lot of journalism courses and writing workshops overcomplicate stuff and it really doesn't have to be as painful as that! There are easy ways to widen your net, make solid connections with national/global editors, freelance for different publications as well as working in your job and get writing on the subjects you feel most passionate about, without having to do loads of unpaid work for 'exposure'. I feel super strongly that every piece of work you do should be paid. I’m also putting on a six-week masterclass course very soon for budding journos wanting to make the jump to freelancing, were the group will learn everything they need to know on how to spread their writer wings and become a successful freelance journalist!

For info on Jessica's courses and workshops,  email 

Sunday 16 June 2019


Another in our cool series on careers - talented vocalist Georgia Rae is carving out a successful career as a musician. Read on to find out how!

Georgia Rae says:
My job is entertaining people. I am a professional vocalist and everything that I do for work involves music. I was born into music as my parents both perform for fun, and now I am lucky enough to say that something that I am so passionate about is my “job”. I am only twenty two years old so this is the start of my journey, I am just getting going but it is still so amazing that I have the support from my family to make this my career. As a child, I dreamt big. I always wanted to be a heart surgeon and it was only as I started to do my GCSE’s that I realised that science wasn’t my strength. Although I had been performing since I was seven years old, I only came to notice that I could sing whilst my friend was having singing lessons. It appeared that I naturally picked things up very quickly and so we started to sing in lessons together. Back then, I never would have thought that I would be in the position that I am in now

It all started when a performing arts university came to my school to hold after school sessions with pupils who were committed. I remember auditioning and thinking 'That was awful, why did my teacher ever suggest such a thing?' A month or so down the line I was attending stage school on Saturdays in Liverpool, playing key roles in my school productions and had chosen Music, Dance and Drama for my GCSE’s (which some teachers thought was absolutely ridiculous!). I can’t thank my performing arts and dance teachers enough for believing in me when I didn’t. It was a whirlwind from there on. Next thing I know, I’m performing in an ensemble around the UK and was preparing for competitions in The Netherlands. This career path wasn’t an accident, I have tried and trained so hard for a long time and I still have a long way to go!

You don’t need any exam passes or qualifications to become a professional singer. However, I did study music all the way to receiving my first class degree in music and I have grown so much as a person and a performer through music education! A love for music, hard work, dedication and a whole lot of passion will take you to great places. For me, there is no typical week. Every single day is different from the next! The one consistent thing in my life is that I wake up and get to make music that I love! I teach during the week, rehearse alone and in numerous ensembles, spend time writing new material, I travel to be a part of my acoustic duo, Afterglow Acoustic, both for rehearsals and gigs, I perform during the weekends both as a solo artist and with Afterglow Acoustic at events such as weddings, birthdays, charity events, local promotions and corporate events, and finally I spend a lot of time acting as a booking agent for both acts, dealing with all enquiries, making sure that all bookings are in order and that the client is getting the best from us.

Music is very rewarding, the fact that my weeks are never the same keep it interesting and as a creative I get bored quite easily doing the same thing over and over, so it is ideal for me! I love tutoring and seeing my students achieve something and watching their faces light up and leave my lesson on cloud nine. Getting that review after a performance is great, whether it be verbal or in written, it is always a great feeling knowing that you’ve pleased your audience. I have so many dreams and plans for the future. I am currently working on my own music and aim to release this within the next year, something that I have never done before and I am so so excited! The only downside is that I often spend a lot of time alone and there is a certain level of insecurity - you never know where your next job could be! I find both of these very hard, I hate being alone and I am a planner so hate uncertainty!

My advice for readers who would like to follow a similar path? Go for it!! Put 100% into everything that you do! Take inspiration from others, this will make you want to try harder - but never compare your self to others - be yourself.

Follow Georgia Rae's Facebook music page here:

Cathy says:
Wow! I love Georgia Rae's story and hope it can inspire my younger readers who might like a career in music too... amazing! What's YOUR dream career? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday 14 June 2019


Reader Grace is mad about the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series... check out her quick, fun fact file on the five sisters!

Grace says:
I love The Chocolate Box Girls!! My favourites are Honey and Cherry. I've read CHERRY CRUSH, MARSHMALLOW SKYE, SUMMER'S DREAM, BITTERSWEET, COCO CARAMEL and SWEET HONEY - I am reading FORTUNE COOKIE at the moment. This is what I think about the main characters...

Cherry Costello: Nice, kind, friendly (even to Honey), tries to get along with Honey, and likes telling stories. 

Loves: Gypsy caravan, Shay Fletcher, Paddy, Skye, Summer, Coco, Charlotte and Kiko, her room at Tanglewood, stories about Sakura.

Skye Tanberry: Shy, kind, nice, friendly, gets along with everyone in the family. 

Loves: Going back in time, Jamie Finch, Charlotte, Paddy, Greg, Summer, Coco, Honey, Cherry, being with Millie.

Summer Tanberry: Kind, friendly, nice, hardworking, anxious, thin. 
Loves: Ballet, Paddy, Charlotte, Greg, Skye, Coco, Honey, Cherry, Alfie Anderson, flower from Alfie, having a Valentine's birthday and Tia.

Coco Tanberry: Kind, shy, nervous, worried about saving the earth.
Loves: Charlotte, Paddy, Greg, Skye, Summer, Honey, Cherry, Sarah, Amy, Jayde, Lawrie Marshall, animals, Caramel, Spirit and Star.

Honey Tanberry: Moody, selfish, impulsive but sometimes kind and caring. 

Loves: Charlotte, Greg, Skye, Summer, Coco, Ash, Riley, Bennie, Tara, Skype, Australia and Emma. 

Jake Cooke: Scared of leaks, clumsy, scared, nice, caring.
Loves: Alison, Greg, Skype, Skye, Summer, Coco, Cherry, Paddy, Honey, Charlotte, Maisie, Isla, Chinatown, Kitnor.

Cathy says:
I love Grace's verdict on the main characters... what do YOU think? Is there anything you'd add or disagree with? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 9 June 2019


Heart-wrenchingly honest blog from Skylar, about discovering his true identity - and coming to terms with it...

Skylar says:
I think I was sixteen when I first learned what being trans meant. I wasn’t really familiar with the concept before that – if you’d asked me what a transgender person was, I probably would have said something about men wearing dresses. I had very little idea what the word meant - it just wasn’t talked about in my small Scottish town. I spent most of my life very confused up until I was sixteen, with no words to describe exactly how I was feeling. I had this overwhelming sense that I didn’t belong anywhere; no matter who I spoke to or how I dressed, nothing felt right. I remember telling a friend once that I would have preferred to have been “born a boy”. I had no idea what that meant for me - I just thought that I was stuck being a girl because that’s what I had to be, no other option.

At sixteen, I stumbled across an online blog written by a trans person. That’s where it all started. From the moment I started reading, it was like I’d finally cleared the fog in my head. Everything made sense. Why I never felt like I belonged, why I had so many insecurities about my body, why I identified with boy characters in books more than the girls. I realised that there were others who felt how I felt. It was amazing, realising that you didn’t have to identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. I finally had the language to describe how I was feeling. I'd been questioning my gender identity for years without realising. At college, there was a LGBTQIA group and I spoke to a youth worker who helped me unpack the thoughts I was having. It took months to feel comfortable identifying as trans. I spent a long time trying out different pronouns and names in my head, trying to figure it all out. The first time I heard someone else call me “him” it was the most validating experience ever. I kept replaying it in my head for the rest of the day!

I officially came out as trans to all of my friends and family when I was eighteen. I came out to close friends first, and received an overwhelmingly supportive response from almost everyone. I then came out to my family. They struggled to accept it, especially my mum, and I felt very rejected. A lot of other circumstances were in play, and I ended up leaving home suddenly and becoming homeless. Around the same time I  learned first hand that being trans came with its hardships - healthcare professionals were sometimes ignorant and discriminatory, people online had so much hate to spread, and not everyone I came out to respected my new identity. It was one of the hardest times of my life, but I received continuous support from LGBT Youth Scotland, and from my new found community of fellow trans people, which made it a little easier. But it was still a very long time before I got over the pain of feeling like my identity was a burden on others. Years later, after rebuilding my relationship with my family, I know that they didn’t mean any harm. There was a lot going on at home already, and it was just a bit too much all at once. My mum and I understand each other a lot more now, and she’s one of my biggest supporters. She uses the right name and pronouns, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her for rethinking her world view for me.

I’d encourage any young people reading this that think they may be gay, bi, trans, non-binary or are questioning who they are even a little bit, to know that it gets easier. That’s such a common phrase that I feel it’s became a stereotype, but it’s so true. It didn’t get better for me for a while, and it was definitely baby steps when things did start looking up. But I wouldn’t change any of it. All of the hardship, the questioning, the negative reactions, the turbulent living situations - it made me stronger and more sure of myself in the end. Look for communities online or in your area where you might be able to find a sense of belonging. Look for youth/support groups you can attend in your area - you might be surprised at the resources you can find with a little research!

I’m now in a place where I’m surrounded by people who validate my identity, and when I run into people who disrespect it, I’m able to brush it off. I know who I am, so why let a stranger’s words change that? It takes a while to get there - it’s easy to get wrapped up in the negative things people have to say, especially online. But I promise you, all you have to do is look a little harder, and there are countless people ready to provide their support and kindness. Is absolutely everyone in the world ready for us? No, maybe not. But they will be! One day, they will be.

Photos courtesy of Pexels.

Cathy says:
Skylar's story is so honest and heartfelt - it has clearly taken a lot of courage to share, and I hope it helps others to understand more what it feels like to be trans. Do YOU have any words of support for Skylar? COMMENT BELOW to share your thoughts...


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