The general parent category for most of the things I write about on here.

One of the more interesting Louisa-centric sub-categories is biodata (where I explore my personal history with graphs, maps and whatnot), and if you’re that way inclined, you can read about the wonderful felines and canines with whom I’ve shared my life too.

Tilda, desk buddy



As I suspect it has been for many people, my 2016 has been a difficult one: stained by disappointments and heartbreaks, large and small.

Everything that felt like it was moving things forward – from elections & referenda, to stuff that only really impacts John & me – went in the opposite way to which I’d hoped/thought it would go. Throughout the year, I’ve had glimpses of what might be next, only to have the rug pulled from under my feet by uncontrollable circumstance. It’s been a rough ride, that’s lead to an overall feeling of, at best, stagnation, or worse, regression.



I haven’t had a bad year, per se. On a day to day level, I’ve mostly been happy. When I have been sad, it has had a direct, obvious cause (mostly dog related) and I found comfort knowing that one way or another, they wouldn’t be long term problems. (Thinking about any of the dogs still brings tears to my eyes but again, I know time will heal.) As someone with a twenty year history of depression, to know the specific reason for my sadness or stress is strangely comforting.

Misc pics from 2016

Though I haven’t been posting them online, I have kept writing my daily “Three Beautiful Things” entries and I’ve also made a concerted effort to apply a similar outlook to other biographical things I write for myself. I have such a natural tendency to focus on bad bits of every situation and that rewrites the whole memory with a negative slant: it’s time for a bit of a refocus before all the good memories are wiped out all together.

Continue reading

100 names for a lovely dog


1. Lily
2. Lily-dog
3. Lily-pup
4. Lilliput
5. Lilyfluff
6. Lily-caerphilly
7. Lils


8. Pup
9. Puppy
10. Puppy-dog
11. Puppy-frog
12. Round Hound
13. Rotundo


14. Wonky Donkey
15. Wonks
16. Donkey
17. Donks
18. Donkle
19. Doggles, the dog with goggles
20. Frog
21. Bog dog
22. Mud skipper


23. Fishface
24. Pupples
25. Trouble Bubble
26. Pound Hound
27. Pound Puppy
28. Hoofer
29. Stinker
30. Stinks
31. Stinkles


32. Jiggly puff
33. Jiggly muffin
34. Muffin
35. Wriggles
36. Stinkbomb
37. Old lady
38. Lady
39. Crazy dog (pioneered by Rafal the plasterer)
40. Granddog (what she is to her Granny and Pop-Pops Leach & her GrandParrys)


41. Ms Ears
42. Boggle Eyes
43. Stinkhound
44. Sleepy Frog
45. Sleepy Bear
46. Pooh Bear
47. Bear
48. Pooh
49. Pond Whomper


50. Floppy Ears
51. Grumpy
52. Grumpelstiltskin
53. Grumpel
54. Grumpasaurus
55. Bubby
56. Bubba
57. Bubs
58. HubbaBubba


59. Hot Dog, Jumping Frog
60. Wonderdog
61. Lillian
62. Our Lady of the Hairy Trousers
63. Bilious
64. Bilbo


65. Button nose
66. Button moon
67. Wriggle-de-piggle
68. Wriggly-piggle
69. Wriggle-pup
70. Waggle-pup


71. Barker
72. Barkmachine
73. Woofy
74. Woofles
75. Sulker
76. Sulkamatic 5000
77. The Incredible Sulk


78. Wobbles
79. WobbleBlob
80. Fougher
81. Lily-Beans
82. Beans
83. Beansy
84. Doodle
85. Poodle
87. Poo
88. PoolNoodle


89. Ms Legs
90. Wobbles McDoggles
91. Kaboodle
92. (Collective name with me, Strange & John) The White Belly Crew
93. Bubblebutt
94. Bubblenose
95. Salty Seadog
96. Weebag
97. Lily Bajilly
98. Helicopter Tail
99. The Dog
100. The Best Dog In the World


We said goodbye to Lily today.

She came to live with us in March 2010. She was already an old dog at that point – nine years old – and we thought she’d only be with us for two or three years. In the end, it was just a fortnight under six years, and every single one of those 2,170 days, she’s made us laugh and smile with utter joy.

She went on boats and buses, she dunked in multiple seas and countless streams, she ran around in woodland nearly every day and she made snow angels at every opportunity. She loved Bonios, shoes and getting dry after showers.

She was gentle and goofy, opinionated but well-trained: she knew how to be a dog. She was cheeky, needy, a right pain in the arse at times but she was an darling with it and was rightly loved by many.

She was our dog. We almost certainly will have others in the future but she will always be our first, the special one.

On her second day with us, I told her that in the Peach household, we always start the day with hugs. And every day we did – including today.

We buried her at the bottom of the garden near the beck. The house will be painfully quiet without her.

Garlic, ginger and chilli sunburst


Letter to my 36 year old self

Dear 36 year old me,

36-letterAs you may remember from last year (and/or 20 years ago if it arrived), I wrote a letter to our 16 year old incarnation with some advice that would have been useful to us back then.

Writing that letter, and reading those written by others (most notably Andrew), I realised that lessons could be learned from the advice offered – lessons that are still applicable today. That’s why I’m writing to you, my future self, just in time for my/our 36th birthday next week.

Last year, I wrote about some realisations I was having about myself as I approached my 35th birthday but you didn’t act on the hints so here is a list of new rules to follow, you dumb monkey. I apologise in advance if this inevitably becomes a list of bland aphorisms but you only have yourself to blame: you’re the one that cultivated such commonplace issues (see #2).

1. Stop losing people through fear or indifference

In every letter I read, including my own, there was a particularly pervasive theme: it’s only afterwards, when it’s too late, that we realise what – who – we’ve lost or missed out on.

You, 36 year old version of me, lose people all over the place.

1a. Making new friends

36-monkeysYou fail to solidify new friendships because you can’t bring yourself to ask for contact details or suggest a future meeting. I can give you the names of three .. four … fi— many, just many people you’ve met over the last year with whom you thought you could strike up a friendship but which you’ve been too scared to cultivate: does that sound like the behaviour of a grown-up? Oh, you think ‘scared’ is too strong of a word? Suck it up lady, you are scared – you’re scared of rejection, no matter how slight. It’s a bloody good job you’re not single.

And you’re hardly any better online than you are in person. You know as well as I do that there are people you don’t follow on Twitter because you’re worried that it’ll be too forward, too pushy. Really? REALLY? You’re an idiot, 36 year old Louisa.

1b. Current friends

36-bladerunnerYou’re no better with established friendships. You suck at initiating interactions both in person and online, and when you chat or meet up with people, you constantly worried you’re making an ass of yourself. Your friends know you’re an ass and they accept you anyway so stop letting it haunt you to the point where you won’t be able to bring yourself to see them again.

And while you might chat online (usually when they initiate it), don’t you think it’s weird that you don’t have the phone numbers of half of your closest friends? You spent so long being worried about that new-friend-rejection bullshit that it got to the point where it was weird to ask for those sort of details. I don’t think you should be afraid of your friends, Louisa. Jeez, do I really need to tell you that?

1c. Back-then friends

36-terminatorAnd of course, because of your various social inadequacies, these people can easily slip from being ‘friends’ to being ‘used-to-be-friends-with’. These people scare you most of all: your ineptitude probably caused you to unconsciously push them away, but you still see it as them rejecting you and are now terrified of them doing it again.

You’re also a bit embarrassed at how your life has been going recently – or rather you’re happy about how your life is going but it’s hard to explain to people who have a different, more usual, way of life. You’re worried that your old friends won’t get what’s going on with you – but you have to remember that you became friends with them because they’re good people — and if, in the meantime, they’ve become not so good people who don’t understand then … well, fuck ’em.

Sure, a bad experience now might sully a good memory of back-in-the-day – and that is a genuine worry, because you like your rose-tinted memories a lot – but that risk is a lot smaller for people you met when you were a highly-selecting/judgmental adult, and together you might be able to remember even more good things about your previous time together – and generate new fun memories too. You’re too young to only live back-in-the-day (see #4) and don’t forget, even if things go wrong, sometimes bursting rose-tinted memories is hilarious and creates new, more interesting tales.

But having said that, you have to remember that not everyone will be on the same page as you regarding reconnecting, especially where the end of the friendship happened more quickly than just fading away through apathy/ineptitude. If they’ve thought of you at all, they’ll have their own narrative about what happened, just like you have yours, and both of them will be subjective, clouded with emotion and reinterpreted over the years. You might have some things you want to say (typically sorry, because of your former social ineptitude) but they might have reached a different conclusion to you, or they might still be on their path, and you bumbling in might stir shit up for them. Or your narratives might clash in a way that is problematic for the both of you. As Lily-pup will tell you, sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie and sometimes, it’s really good to give sleeping dogs a Bonio as a surprise for when they wake up. The former is probably more relevant to this discussion.

So … I guess there is a bit of a contradiction on the ‘old friends’ point but despite the idiotic behaviour referenced above, I think you’re sensible enough to know when you’re letting fear rule the day and when you’re avoiding contact under the guise of being considerate. You know the people where the latter applies more strongly: stop using them as an excuse for hiding from those where it doesn’t.

2. Seriously, stop being scared of people

36-morlockIn case you didn’t quite get it – I know you’re not the most socially capable person – the general message of that last section was: you need to stop being scared of people. This point is reiterating that in a different way – I think you need to hear it again and again.

You’re pretty happy with your life and pretty good at ignoring all sorts of nonsense, but you still have this stupid view that your life is a mess because you don’t have x, y and z in place. I think you feel this particularly acutely because you’ve had x but then lost it because you couldn’t do what had to be done to keep it; or you were all about y but lost it through no fault of your own; and you don’t even want z but you feel like you should because .. society.

Those things are all true but the point I want to make here is that everyone – well, nearly everyone – feels the same way. A lot of their x, y and zs are the same as yours too: they just seem to hide it better because (as Paul says) you’re comparing their outsides with your insides.

Stop being scared that you’re not enough. Remembering your clowning lessons: you are enough. Or rather no one is enough, and you’re all wallowing in the ball pit together.

So imagine a world full of people like you. Insecure people; people who fear rejection; people who very well might have been sneakily reading this private letter and nodding along. A world where people lose other people all the time for the exact same reasons you’ve listed above. How many budding friendships are unduly cut off because everyone is scared to make the first move? They might need you to do it but because you’re caught up in your own little cesspool of patheticness and fear, nothing happens.

You know what Louisa, now that I’m writing all this out, it seems pretty sad. Please try to do better now in our 37th year and beyond.

3. It’s all an illusion

36-shark-attackA few weeks ago, you had a bit of a facepalm moment when you realised that something you’d been quietly beating yourself up about for years wasn’t actually anything to do with you: you’d tied two events together in your mind to play out the worst possible scenario for you, when actually they were completely separate. As soon as you started to think about it logically, you quickly untangled the error but for years, you’ve been emotionally tied to the mistake and it tarnished the two good memories.

You are one for doing that, aren’t you? You get some – usually negative – notion in your head and you repeat it to yourself until it becomes The Truth.

Even forgetting your amazing ability to ruin your own memories, you sometimes forget that your perception of something is just that – your perception, not some objective truth. I think you’re getting better about this but I still think it’s a huge problem for you. I think it’s a big part of your fear of people: you get an idea about how they feel towards you and can’t get past it.

These things often eventually become clear in hindsight – like in the example above – but they bother you for a long time before epiphanies happen. That wastes brain CPU cycles, emotional energy and most importantly, opportunities with people, places and things. You’ve got more exciting things to think about, worry about and do, so stop wasting your potential protecting yourself from hologram sharks.

4. Today’s the youngest you’re ever going to be

36-loganChanging the topic slightly, you’re not young any more. You know this intellectually, of course, it’s just hard to know it on a more primal level because you became ‘you’ when you were young, and it’s hard to shake that self image. I refer you, once again, to our favourite cartoon strip on this matter.

So you’re not young, but you’re not old either. Another major thread that came through the various letters to our 16 year old selves is that we need to make the most of what we’ve got, physically, while we’ve got it. There were numerous references to hair loss, energy levels and, in my case, an urging to enjoy my flat stomach, before my belly button became a belly canyon. Well Louisa, here’s some news for you: you need to do that right now too.

With your general walrus layer and current hot weather pimples, you don’t think you’ve got that much going on but I can almost guarantee that in ten years – and especially in twenty years – you’re going to look back with regret for what you’ve lost. Sure, you get aches in your joints and muscles sometimes but the key word there is “sometimes”, and you might have lost the flexibility you had ten years ago but you’re stronger now.

So you know, don’t squander this time. You don’t have to take any medication and you don’t have any fillings, you can dig over allotment beds of clay soil and walk many multiple miles in a day without effort: your body is serving you just fine, make the most of it while you can.

5. Stop stagnating

36-treadmillHey Louisa, remember when you worked at the university, and you hated your job and you hated your bullying colleagues, but stayed because the pay was pretty good for the amount of work you did and the benefits – holidays, library access, funded courses – were even better? You stayed there until the bad shit drove you mad – wretchingly depressed and fumingly angry – because it was the only place you’d worked since leaving uni yourself and the good stuff made it feel safe & comfortable.

Well you know what? You’re comfortable again now. Being comfortable is nice but it’s also a trap.

I’m not talking about John – of course not, he’s your favourite dickhead, your life partner in crime – but pretty much everything else. You’ve gone to great lengths to learn to be happy with what you’ve got and that’s great in a lot of ways but equally you’ve lost your fire. You’ve lost your drive and, by and large, your desire to be more than you currently are. That’s … not so great. Being comfortable makes you fear change – because things can only go down from here – but change is inevitable so you’re creating a whole lot of anxiety for your future self.

I know you’re working on your version of a “101 goals in 1001 days” list at the moment but you know as well as I do that it’s mostly trival bullshit – do them, sure, they sound fun, but don’t mistake them for actual achievements. As I said above, you’re not old yet and that means you’ve probably got a lot of years left: do you really just want to potter them away? You might be happy on a day to day basis but I’m not sure that’s enough for you. I’ve been thinking about it recently and I struggle to think what has changed – on a meaningful level – for you in the last five years. I know the speed of life slows down when you’re out of your teens and twenties and the intensity of experiences dulls too, but you have to keep moving forward. You really do.

I don’t know what to tell you here – I don’t know how to solve this stuff. You’re at the metaphorical version of the Five Lanes End roundabout and you don’t know which way is forward. I only hope that you are both older and wiser than me and can figure it out a bit better. Do remember this little true story: the last time I was at the real Five Lane Ends, I wasn’t sure which would be the best exit for Frizinghall. Together, John and I narrowed down the choice and picked one. It was a road that we don’t go down that much but it turned out to be the right one – and even if it hadn’t been, the wrong road would have only taken us a little bit out of our way and that’s alright, because we were laughing and joking together on the journey. HINT, Future Louisa, motherfucking HINT.

6. (Most) Things don’t have to be forever

36-houseYou’ve never known what you want to do with your life. Your fleeting, unrealistic ambitions as a teenager gave way to more long-lived, more realistic ones in your early 20s but I don’t think you really really wanted because you had various easy-reach opportunities to make them happen, but you didn’t take them. Then when you left the uni, you said you were going to have a “career break” to figure out what was next for you, but you got caught up in an exciting startup wave and you forgot about that figuring out stuff for years, until you’d used up all your energy, enthusiasm and self-confidence. And now here we are.

I think your problem, Louisa – well, one of them – is that you’re scared by the enormity of that question: what do you want to do with your life? Your whole fricking life. You only get one life and you are trying to come up with the ultimate answer to life, the Lou-niverse and everything. Do you see why that might be a problem?

You know – and have always known – that you have a habit of changing who you are every few years. Why on earth do you think you can find a one-size-fits-all solution to that?

I know that above I warned against pottering, that bimbling through life collecting brownie badges but nothing bigger would damage you to your core, but there is a middle path between those extremes: perhaps your next business idea doesn’t have to be your career for the rest of your life. Perhaps you approach it more realistically and assume it’ll be your life for the next, say, five years, but after that you expect to have something else that captivates your attention.

Now I know there are problems with this. I know that some things can’t be shaken off after five years – they obviously shouldn’t be considered in this way. I also know that five years isn’t long to properly establish a business or a career in a new area – but look what you did in just a few months last time, before the concept of being a “pro blogger” became as outdated as being a shoulder pad salesman. Your sites might not have floated on the stock market to earn billions but they paid your way for a few years. This isn’t really about the money though right now, it’s about getting you moving forward again.

7. What it all boils down to

36-decisionsIf the first two points were about not being afraid of people, these last few have been about not being afraid of making decisions – but they’re all about the same thing: you need to start being more assertive about stuff.

You’ve been going with the flow – or letting the flow take you – for a while now. The path of least resistance doesn’t always take you to good places – sometimes it doesn’t take you anywhere at all.

A wise man once told you to take responsibilitity for your actions. You were scared about making a big jump and you told him that you wished you drank so you could get drunk and let lose. He told you that it was no way to handle things, that instead you should own your choices and stand by them. He was completely right about that situation and his point still stands – though don’t tell him that he’s right because he has a big enough ego as it is. In fact, claim this whole paragraph is about someone else instead – he’s got a bad memory so he won’t remember it’s about him.

This whole thing isn’t about making you into someone you’re not – you’ll never be a super sociable, ambitious over-achiever and you wouldn’t want to be – but it’s about stopping you slipping away even further. I know – trust me, I’m you, I know – that this stuff is really hard but you have to try because not trying is feeding your depression and your anxieties as much as failure would. Exactly as we told our 16 year old self: “GET OUT OF YOUR FUCKING SHELL, YOU IDIOT. It can’t exactly make you more miserable, can it?”

Anyway, 36 year old Louisa, I should probably sign off because I’ll become you very soon. I hope you enjoyed the birthday breakfast curry I’m currently eagerly anticipating but much more than that, I hope you take these words to heart because I think it’ll be excessively milking this “letter to self” format if I have to write another one in a year’s time.

Get to it, and party on dude,

-louisa, age 35 years, 51 weeks and 3 days.

The last time I vomited

I remember, quite clearly, the last time I vomited.

Some people vomit quite casually or quite frequently but not me. The last time I vomited was on the 19th of December 1996.

(If I’ve told you I’ve “been sick” in the meantime, it was either a lie to get out of doing something I’d find socially awkward or a politer alternative to telling you that I had the squits. Sorry for lying and sorry for the latter mental image too.)

The Set-up

vomiting-art-2It was the Thursday before Christmas and along with the rest of humanity, it was our “work” Christmas night out – for me, then, “work” meant the Thursday evening team from the local hospital radio.

The plan was to do our regular shows – my “Songs from the Movies” solo show that no one listened to, followed by two hours of requests & bingo that had a fractionally bigger audience – then to go out clubbing. I was quite excited because we didn’t socialise much as a group away from the hospital, and I liked the idea of going out to a different club than I usually frequented, with a different group of people – anything could happen. We were also about to lose one of our number to the bright lights of That London, so it was almost a leaving party (an almost-leaving party) too.

In anticipation of the evening ahead, I had spent the afternoon doing all the things young girls do before of a big night out. All my various nails were painted, my legs were shaved, and my perpetually unruly hair was beaten into submission and sprayed with something that promised to add shine. I applied my make-up with all the skill I had at the time – using every tip I read in Just 17 and Mizz over the years (before I swapped my allegiances to Empire & Q) – and finally, I pulled on my absolute favourite dress: the shimmery petrol bias-cut satin shift dress that clung to every curve – I had curves worth clinging to then – and which I had been assured was good for dancing. As I left the house for the studio, I can safely say that I looked good, brilliant in fact – probably the best I’d ever looked for a night out up ’til that point and in the top handful of nights out I ever had in my teenage years. I was HOT. The problem was I didn’t realise the hotness was actually feverishness. I didn’t realise that until it was too late.

Even though, as I said, no one listened to it, I was always nervous during my solo show: setting up all the music, running the desk and presenting at the same time – there was a lot to do. Those in or around the studio were frequently treated to a cacophony of high-pitched squeals and frantic swearing which then switched instantly to a soothing Radio 2 late night DJ voice as soon as I pushed the “on air” button: I considered it one of my special super hero skills. Still though, that night, I felt more nervous than normal – my stomach flipping over at the anticipation of a fun night out ahead.

The Throw-Up

vomiting-artWith the usual panic and bluster, I made it through my show and we segued into the main entertainment of the evening. I was co-hosting with R while D ran the desk. Since he was sat opposite us, it was D who first noticed that I was biting the skin around my pretty painted nails even more neurotically than usual and also that I looked a bit green. Between tracks, he asked me if I was ok.

Like the rest of the hospital, the studio was heated to sub-tropical temperatures. It was also pretty compact, so with three of us and a whole lot of equipment, the atmosphere always became rather stifling. With my internal radiator stuck on ‘max’ though, it had become especially unpleasantly oppressive so I used D’s query to excuse myself, to get some fresh air.

As I bounced down the steps to the corridor, I must have already know that I needed something else, not just a cool breeze. Thankfully there was a toilet just across the way and I ducked inside. I had just shut the door behind me when I immediately projectile vomited all over the toilet. Not into the toilet, no no; all over the toilet.

I had just enough time to gasp an “oh no” before the second wave rose. I managed a slightly better aim that time.

A third final heave felt like it dredged up all my internal organs and possibly a bone or two, but the trickle that landed smack-dab in the middle of the bowl (practise made perfect) assured me that it was only the last pitiful dregs of my stomach contents. I felt drained and completely raw. My throat burned, my mouth burned, even my lips burned.

I flushed away the flood that had landed in the bowl and stood up to examine the additional damage.

Damage to bathroom:
– Splattered chunks all around the toilet seat (fixable – I could wipe it up with toilet roll)
– Splattered lumps sliding down the toilet cistern (fixable – I could wipe it up with toilet roll)
– Splattered clumps of the most vivid yellow mush on wall to left of the toilet (fixable – I could wipe it up with toilet roll)
– Vomit soaked, SOAKED, toilet paper roll (oh)
– Revolting stench throughout.

Already somewhat disheartened, I looked into the mirror behind the sink to assess my own state.

Damage to myself:
– Splatters in several shades and consistencies down the full length of my dress (crap)
– Mascara and previously fantastic smoky eye makeup streaked down my face like goth stalactites (crap)
– Blusher and surprisingly durable lipstick appear clown-like against my deathly pale skin (crap)
– A sticky squelching in my open-toed party shoes (crap)
– Revolting stench clinging to my ever fibre.

I swore copiously and wished the room was bigger than it was: it was just the toilet and a small handbasin so I had to stand there, wavering slightly, looking at the mess rather than being able to sit down with my head between my legs. I almost felt that if I could just rest for a moment, I could will my body into feeling better and there would still be a chance of going out that night. But no.

The Clean-Up

beans-and-sausagesInstead I stood there, in a daze, considering my stomach contents. Because I didn’t know any better in those days, I’d had beans-and-sausage-in-a-can for a hurried dinner before leaving the house. I was marvelling at how little their form or smell had been affected by their time in my acid-churning belly when there was a knock on the door. R had popped down to check on me. He asked if I was ok.

I looked at the splatters on the furnishings and my dress, then turned to look at myself in the mirror. My still perfect hair mocked the rest of formerly-perfect me and I steadied myself by holding onto the taps.

“Not really, no. I’m … not well,” I said, not wanting to go into too much detail and also not wanting to speak because it pushed stomach acid into new, exciting places in my oesophagus. He asked if he could get me anything.

I would have loved a glass of water. I would have loved to sit down. I would have loved to not be splattered in my own vomit. But to get any of those things would have involved opening the toilet door and that would have meant letting out THE STENCH. You would not believe THE STENCH.

“Um, can you just call me a taxi please?”


He went away and I did my best to clean the little cubicle with scratchy paper towels. I suspect I did an incredibly poor job.

I slumped against the wall. Even in my miserable state, I could see the humour in the ridiculousness of the situation. Laughing made my head and throat hurt.

I don’t remember leaving the hospital. I don’t remember who helped me down to the taxi. I don’t remember the journey home. The lack of memories isn’t because nearly 18 years have passed since that special night – I was just so out of it that I didn’t even remember it the next day.

I was ill for the next week but I didn’t vomit again – and as stated in the premise of this whole post, I haven’t vomited again since. I think I vomited so much that evening that I’ve gacked up my quota for my lifetime.

I haven’t eaten beans-and-sausages-in-a-can ever again either.